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Reading forecast to be the fastest-growing city in the country

07:49 19 February in Berkshire, News

According to a recent report by EY, Reading is forecast to be the fastest-growing ‘city’ in the country, with 2.3% Gross Value Added (GVA) growth per year over the period 2018-2021.

Examining the economic outlook across the country’s regions and cities for the following three years, EY’s fourth annual UK Regional Economic Forecast puts Reading in first place above Manchester and London, whose estimated GVA growth rates are 2.2% and 2.1% respectively. And whilst the wider South East, as a result of slower growth in the services sector, is expected to grow at a rate equal to the UK’s average growth of 1.7%, both Reading and the Thames Valley (Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire) are anticipated to outpace this average.

Reinforcing Reading’s success in the report is the strength of its information and communications sector. Expected to expand by 3.5% per annum over the next three years, the sector already accounts for almost a quarter of Reading’s GVA and will account for almost one in every three jobs created in the area. Despite this, due to the relatively low labour-intensity of the sector, Reading’s expected employment growth (0.9%) is surpassed by Manchester and Birmingham.

Amongst other factors, a slowing economy and an expected reduction in immigration is expected to cause a significant change in pace to the country’s employment growth rate, from the 1.4% seen in the five years to 2018 down to a predicted 0.5% per annum. The South East is the only region of the UK in which employment growth is anticipated to advance in the next three years, reflecting recovery after a weak performance between 2015 and 2018.

Richard Baker, Managing Partner at EY in the Thames Valley, commented:

“The pace of economic growth in Reading and the Thames Valley is expected to continue accelerating over the next three years. This reflects the strengths of the region in terms of its highly skilled workforce, the employer base ranging from world-leading corporates through to fast-growth entrepreneurs, and the region’s sectoral composition, which in the case of the information and communications sector, is expected to drive growth via higher productivity. These conditions mean Reading and the Thames Valley are expected to continue to grow faster than other areas of the UK.”

The full report can be accessed here.