European Comparator City Report: York

York’s private sector performs well and is a significant strength for the city to capitalise upon.

Report published on 16 February 2012 by Joe Sarling

This short report compares the economy of York with a number of selected comparator European cities to inform York’s aspiration, set out in The York Economic Strategy 2011-2015, of becoming “a top 10 European city” compared to European cities of a similar size. The purpose of this report is to analyse:

  • York’s advantage in high-skilled labour
  • The city’s main competitors
  • York’s private sector structure

Summary findings

  • The population of York has grown strongly at a rate of 1.4 percent per year over the past five years – from 189,200 in 2005 to 202,400 in 2010.
  • 40 percent of York’s working population holds a degree or better, a proportion with only Cambridge, in the UK, and Oulu and Utrecht ranking higher amongst comparable European cities.
  • Despite its skills advantages, York’s gross domestic product per capita lags behind many European cities. This could reflect levels of productivity or (which is more likely) the type of industry located in York (services or leisure) compared to other high performing cities such as Regensburg, Tampere and Oulu (manufacturing and energy).
  • York’s private sector performs well and is a significant strength for the city to capitalise upon. It is in the top 10 for the number of firms with 1-250 employees and in the top 15 for the number of firms employing over 250 people.
  • However, while York’s existing private sector base is strong, its dynamism lags behind European comparators. The number of new businesses entering the market as a proportion of existing businesses is low in York (8.4) compared to the European leader for a city of this size, Trondheim, Norway (18.2).