Growth in Buckinghamshire

Our voice of business this month is:

Rupert Waters, Head of Economic Research, Buckinghamshire Thames Valley Local Enterprise Partnership

Over the last five years, Buckinghamshire’s population has grown by 25,000 to reach 536,000.  At 4.9 per cent, Buckinghamshire’s rate of growth has been well above the national level to rank 6th among England’s 38 LEPs and 4th among the 27 county council areas.  Over the same period, Buckinghamshire’s economy has grown 10.2 per cent, the 15th highest among LEPs, but slightly behind the 11.7 per cent rise recorded across the UK.  This growth in output has been accompanied by an increase in the number of hours worked alongside more jobs in the county.

Chart 1: Growth in Buckinghamshire, 2012-2017

Source: Regional Accounts, ONS, 2019; Local Forecasts, Oxford Economics, January 2019

However, Buckinghamshire’s productivity has fallen over the last five years.  Although Buckinghamshire has the 4th highest productivity among LEPs, one of only eight LEPs to better the national level, productivity, measured as output per hour worked, has fallen from 20 per cent above the national level in 2012 to 10 per cent in 2017.

Buckinghamshire’s high productivity derives from both its occupational and industrial structure.  By occupation, Buckinghamshire’s labour force has a very high proportion of managerial, scientific and technical jobs (SOCs 1-3) and comparatively few local skilled roles, the elementary, machine operative, caring and sales roles.  From 2012 to 2017 the total of employment at SOCs 1-3 in Buckinghamshire rose from 47.1 per cent to 50.8 per cent, growing faster than the country as whole, which would be expected to increase productivity compared to the national level.

However, the county’s industrial structure has also been changing.  From 2012 to 2017, the productivity of all sectors rose.  Despite this, Buckinghamshire’s overall productivity fell, due to sectors with lower productivity increasing the number of hours worked faster than the higher productivity sectors, Large sectors with below average productivity, such as wholesale and retail; arts, recreation and leisure; and administrative support services, have shown strong growth while high productivity sectors such as finance and insurance; public administration and defence; and real estate activities have shown weaker growth.

Productivity has grown in all sectors in Buckinghamshire over the last five years, helped by the creation of more managerial, professional and technical roles, however, industrial change has led to lower overall productivity.

In the next five years, Buckinghamshire’s economy is expected to strengthen, Oxford Economics forecast Buckinghamshire’s growth in output to exceed growth in jobs to 2027, so that the county’s GVA per worked will rise from 11.4 per cent above the national level to 12.1 per cent above by 2027, the 3rd highest rate of growth forecast among LEPs and one of only nine expected to better the national rate of growth.  The realisation of the Buckinghamshire’s new Local Industrial Strategy and its sector propositions will play a central role in securing these improvements.

More on the Buckinghamshire economy can be found at https://www.buckstvlep.co.uk/useful-information/buckinghamshire-economy/