Shifting Gears: Safeguarding Derby’s economic growth

Over the last decade, Derby’s economy has performed solidly, but how can Derby lock in its economic success, and widen access to the high-value economy?

Report published on 17 October 2010 by Centre for Cities

Derby is part of the Centre for Cities’ Partner City research programme. The programme works closely with a small group of cities to inform economic development strategies and improve economic performance.

This report focuses on the broad question: How can Derby lock in its economic success, and widen access to the high-value economy? The report is divided into four sections:

• The extent and nature of Derby’s economic performance;
• The relationship between Derby’s sectoral strengths;
• The risks to Derby’s success and how this can be mitigated;
• Expanding on Derby’s success.

Executive summary

Over the last decade, Derby’s economy has performed solidly. It saw a 3.7 percent (3,200 jobs) increase in private sector employment from 1998 to 2008. Strikingly, average earnings for people working in Derby are the highest of any city outside London and the south east. Derby is a hub for highly skilled and highly specialised jobs for people living in surrounding areas and for Derby residents.

Much of Derby’s success is based on its strong manufacturing base, particularly the aerospace sector and, to a lesser extent, rail engineering. Rolls-Royce and Bombardier are vital employers in these sectors and their longstanding presence in the city suggests they are unlikely to move in the short to medium term. Derby’s success is less attributable to business start-ups, which are at a low level. This can be partly explained by the importance of large firms to the city’s economy.

The current economic climate poses a challenge to Derby’s economic performance. Cuts in public spending will affect jobs and businesses in Derby, for example in the rail sector. There is a need for the Council to understand and seek to mitigate the impact these changes are likely to have on the local economy.