Reading ranks alongside London as UK business capital


The annual barometer of the economic performance of the UK’s top cities ranks Reading as one of the most dynamic economies for wages, jobs, high skills, productivity and business start-ups in the country.


Centre for Cities’ Cities Outlook 2018 ranks Reading 2nd behind London for highest wages, with the average weekly salary of £655 - 18% above the national average, as well as 2nd for the number of businesses per capita (474 per 10,000 population) - an increase of 3.6% on 2017.


FRBRYGRDNS FOUNTAIN 290114In addition, Reading performs excellently for productivity (3rd in UK), 25% above the national average; while almost 50% of the Reading working population is educated to degree level or equivalent (6th highest in UK) and Reading boasts the 7th highest employment rate in the UK.


The report, which assesses 10 key indicators of economic performance of 63 cities across the UK, looks at population, business dynamics, productivity, innovation, employment, skills, wages, inequality, housing, environment and digital connectivity. Among key findings in the report, the authors comment:-


“Cities such as London and Reading are among the most productive in Europe,”


“High-skilled businesses look for locations that offer them access to knowledge – both through the availability of highly-skilled workers and a network of high-skilled businesses. Cities such as Reading and London offer both of these advantages, and this is reflected in the types of jobs they have attracted in spite of the higher cost of commercial space in these cities.”


The report also assesses the resilience of UK city labour markets to the development of artificial intelligence, automation and other technological

changes by 2030. They forecast that the Reading labour market is the 3rd least likely economy to shrink, due to the prevalence of high skilled jobs and the innovative and knowledge-based business sectors based here.


Sue Brackley, Economic Development Manager, Reading UK,  the economic development company for Reading, said: RDNG AERIALVIEW1 090615“The Centre for Cities report demonstrates not only that Reading is a powerful and increasingly viable alternative business centre to London and other much larger cities, but that the technological basis of Reading’s economic success and the huge talent pool here makes Reading one of the UK’s most likely economies to maximise the opportunities in a post-Brexit and increasingly tech-driven economy.


“Reading’s success is underpinned by high-level skills and high wages driving a knowledge-based economy, but as with all successful UK economies, we struggle with ensuring the benefits of that economic success are shared equally across our population,”


Councillor Jo Lovelock, Reading Borough Council Leader, said: “The latest Centre for Cities report confirms what we already know - Reading is a place with great quality of life and has one of the strongest local economies in the UK. We do not ignore however that Reading is also a place of contrasts, where inequalities continue to exist and in some cases grow. In particular, there are too many people who find it unaffordable to rent or buy housing in Reading.


“The challenge to the Council - and indeed all of our partners - is to ensure the town’s economic success can be shared more with everyone and that everyone can benefit from Reading’s strong performance.”


City Outlook data 2018 (Centre for Cities) – where Reading features in the top 10 (2017 figures shown in brackets)





Productivity (GVA) per worker                              

3 (2)


Business startups and closures(per10,000 pop.)

6 (5)

73.5 / 60.5 (2.7% churn)


Number of businesses (per 10,000 pop.)

2 (2)

474 (increase of 3.6% on 464 last year)


7 (7)

78.1% (0.7%)

Unemployment rate


6 (6)

1.1% JSA claimant count

Private Sector Job Growth

9 (9)

148,500 (gain of 7,500 net jobs)


6 (6)

49.9% educated to NVQ4 or above ( degree level)

No formal qualifications

9 (6)

5.4% with no formal qualifications



2 (2)

£655 per week, 18% above the national average


Housing affordability

7 (7)

11.8 x average annual salary of £33,100


4 (4)

GINI co-efficient 0.433



More information on the 2018 report at


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