State of the County

Durham County Council have launch their ‘Big Econ-versation’ consultation and are looking for the views of both the public and private sector.  The consultation runs until 22nd April 2022 and you can access it here: Our Big Econ-versation

The State of the County (SoC) Report highlights ‘where we are’ and ‘how we’re performing’ against our recognised measures of success.

Note:   As updates occur during the year, sometimes several times in a year, up to date information on the latest releases can be found on the related data reports page.

Through our County Durham Economic Partnership’s ambitions of creating: a Thriving Durham City; Vibrant and Successful Towns; Competitive and Successful People; Sustainable Neighbourhoods and Rural Communities; and a Top Location for Business we are helping to make our places work, influencing and informing wider decision making and investments across the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (NELEP) area, enabling effective investment planning within the County and creating more opportunities for employment.

Use the ‘Data Report‘ link above to access the data that supports this report and the State of the County report can be accessed through the link below.

The State of the County Story Map

Economic Summary Page

Summary

Employment

To help economic growth, an available and adequate labour supply is required. However, recent ONS local population projections suggest that the working age cohort is steadily falling, thus reducing the number of people available to work. While a small part of this potential short fall can and is taken up by people who have reached retirement age the remainder would need to be filled by increased net migration and by helping and encouraging the economically inactive back into work.

Measure of Success: The County Durham employment rate to converge to and be maintained at pre-recession levels (73% of the working age population) within the period 2010-2030 leading to 30,000 additional jobs for County Durham residents.

Current Rate: 71.2% (228,800 people) (January 2021 to December 2021)

The employment rate for County Durham has grown steadily over the last three years and stands at around 71.2% (around 228,800 people). This is just above the regional rate (70.2%) but some way off the rate for England (75.1%).

The greatest impacts of the last recession were in 2011/12 and 2012/13 when employment fell considerably.

 

However, the estimated number of residents in employment has increased by 4,600 in the last five years.

There are also now fewer ‘economically active’ people in the County than prior to the recession.

Source: Annual Population Survey; further information is available in the factsheet below and on the Economy and Employment data report.

Economic Inactivity and Unemployment

Current Economic Inactivity Rate: 25.8% (83,000 people) (January 2021 to December 2021)

Current Unemployment Rate: 4.1% (9,700 people) (January 2021 to December 2021)

To help economic growth an available and adequate labour supply is required. However, recent ONS local population projections suggest that the working age cohort is steadily falling, thus reducing the number of people available to work.  While a small part of this potential short fall can and is taken up by people who have reached retirement age the remainder would need to be filled by increased net migration and by helping and encouraging the economically inactive back into work.

Increasing economic participation in this group could help to reduce the risk of debt, long-term poverty and ill-health. It could also widen social inclusion and increase self-confidence and financial independence amongst disadvantaged groups and communities. Economic inactivity may act as a barrier to their ability to gain the advice, qualifications and skills they need to access the labour market.

Since a post recession peak in 2010/11 the number of economically inactive people has fallen by nearly 10,500 people, falling from a post recession high of 27.2% to a post recession low of 22.3% in 2019. Unemployment is 4.1%, this is a fall from 6.6% from the previous period.

This is a significant fall in the unemployment rate from the previous period. However, it is important to note that this latest release covers the final period of the COVID furlough support scheme which may have impacted the survey results this is based on. We will need to wait for the next data release in April to see if this trend continues.

 

 

The chart below details the reasons why people are economically inactive.

 

Source: Annual Population Survey; further information is available in the factsheet below and on the Economy and Employment data report.

Businesses

County Durham’s economy is well positioned to grow. Our workforce and the numbers of people in work are growing, education levels are rising, and productivity levels are improving.

Key to this growth continuing is the creation (birth) of new businesses in the county along with their continued growth and the growth of our established businesses. Increasing the number of businesses in the county is one of the key measures of success agreed by the County Durham Economic Partnership (CDEP) in 2010.

Measure of Success: The number of businesses in the County to increase by 4,300 by 2030 contributing towards the rise in the employment rate.

Current: In 2021 there were 14,565 business enterprises in County Durham, an increase of 3,120 (27.3%) since 2010.

In the last two years the number of businesses in the County has increased by around 870 businesses (6%) to 14,565. Similarly, the number of workplaces in the County has increased by nearly 720 (4.2%) to 17,900. County Durham accounts for around 19.7% of all businesses in the North East, and 19.7% of all workspaces.

 

By deducting ‘business deaths’ from ‘business births’ it is possible to calculate the net change in businesses.

 

The County has experienced net growth of an average of around 320 businesses per year in the last 5 years (2016 – 2020).

This coincides with the general recovery of the County Durham economy after the UK recession in 2008 and 2009.

Source: ONS Business Counts; further information is available in the factsheet below and on the Economy and Employment data report.

 
Business Durham Properties
Business Durham manages almost 500 units across County Durham, equating to almost 53,000 square metres (570,455 square feet) of space.

Overall occupancy rates have improved between December 2016 and December 2017.
 

The main reason for the fall in occupancy rates at NETPark relates to a business moving from the Incubator – which Business Durham manages – to purpose built private accommodation elsewhere
on the science park.

Jobs

The Business Register Employment Survey (BRES) provides a picture of employment availability and structure, (jobs), within the county and communities within it. Over time it shows how this employment has changed in response to a changing economy and industrial base.

When combined with other economic indicators, for example Gross Value Added data, the data can be used to show how the economy of the county is changing in response to an ever changing economic climate and which industries contribute the most to the area’s economy.

The data also shows how the county has adapted to an ever shrinking production, manufacturing and construction industrial base prevalent in the county as recent as twenty years ago.

Current: 177,000 jobs (2020)

There were an estimated 177,000 jobs in the county in 2020, 5,900 less than estimated in 2019 (a fall of 3.2%).  Regionally the number of jobs fell by 2.5% while nationally there was a fall of 1.8%.

Between 2010 and 2020 there was stronger growth in the number of jobs in the county than there had been regionally with an increase of 5.9% (9,900 additional jobs) compared to 11.2% growth nationally.

As shown in the chart below, the number of employees has steadily grown since 2010 and has increased to an estimated 177,000 in 2020.

 

Source: Business Register Employment Survey (BRES) ; further information is available in the factsheet below and on the Economy and Employment data report.

Gross Value Added: per Head of Population

Gross Value Added (GVA) represents the value of goods and services produced in an area, industry or sector of an economy. ONS GVA is one of the most important indicators of regional economic performance and it is regularly used to demonstrate the economic activity of commercial and non-commercial organisations.

The value of County Durham’s economy continues to show positive signs of growth, with data for 2019 suggesting annual growth of £277 million.

County Durham contributes towards 16.2% of the value of the North East economy, which was around £55.3bn in 2019.

Measure of Success:  The County’s per capita GVA figure to rise to 87% of the regional value (or 68% of the UK figures) by 2030.

Current: GVA per Head of Population in County Durham increased by 3.2% between 2018/19 rising to £16,925, the third lowest in the region and now represents 81.7% of the regional average.

 

However, both the County Durham and North East economies are growing at a slower rate than the national economy, meaning that year-on-year the gap is growing.

On average, people in County Durham contribute £16,925 each towards the economy, which is substantially below the regional average (£20,727), and the England average (£30,239) and these gaps are widening.

County Durham’s performance using this measure is 57.2% of the UK average and 56% of the England average.

The County’s under-performance is a result of the high proportion of people of working age who are not working and also by lower value jobs in County Durham.

 

Source: ONS Gross Valued Added (Balanced Approach) GVA ; further information is available in the factsheet below and on the Economy and Employment data report.

More information is available on the Gross Value Added (GVA) page.

Gross Domestic Household Income (GDHI): per Head of Population

Gross Disposable Household Income (GDHI) is the amount of money that all of the individuals in the household sector have available for spending or saving after they have paid direct and indirect taxes and received any direct benefits. GDHI is a concept that is seen to reflect the “material welfare” of the household sector.

GDHI is important as it gives an indication of the standard of living and monetary well-being of people.

County Durham’s proportion of the North East GDHI was around 19.3% (£8,809m), which was around £45.6bn in 2019.

By dividing total GDHI by the resident population an estimate of value for each person in the county can be derived, instead of household in overall GDHI.

Measure of Success:  Gross Household Disposable Income per Head of Population to rise within the next 20 years to 103% of the regions values (or 87.4% of the national figure)

Current: GDHI per Capita in County Durham was £16,617 in 2019 and now represents 97.2% of the regional average and 77.5% of the UK average.

 

GDHI per head in County Durham has continued to rise since 1997 but at a slower rate than regionally.

However, the gap between County Durham/North East and England continues to increase .

Source: ONS Gross Domestic Household Income (GDHI) ; further information is available in the Economy and Employment data report and on the GDHI page: Gross Domestic Household Income

Average Weekly Earnings (ASHE)

Average Weekly Earnings are derived from the ONS Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE). The ASHE is based on a 1 per cent sample of employees, information on whose earnings and hours is obtained from employers. The survey does not cover the self-employed.

Full-time weekly wages in County Durham have increased by 23.3% since 2010 which is lower than that seen regionally and nationally.

However, average wages in County Durham and the North East are both lower than the England average – indeed both County Durham and the North East remain some way behind average wages in England in 2021.

 

Source: Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) ; further information is available in the factsheet below and on the Economy and Employment data report.