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Friday, 6th March 2015

UK: A Century of Cities: Urban Economic Change Since 1911

Source: Centre for Cities (UK)

From Executive Summary:

Over the last 100 years all cities have been buffeted by the winds of economic change. Globalisation and technological and transport developments have meant that they have had to continually adapt to these changes, both to continue to provide jobs and contribute to national economic growth.

These global changes have altered the role that our cities play in the national economy, meaning it is now proximity to knowledge rather than proximity to resources that is the primary driver of city growth.

Those cities that have adapted to this change have reinvented their economies, creating jobs in new, more knowledge-focused industries to offset losses in more traditional industries. These cities, such as Reading and Brighton, have thrived as a result, creating many thousands of jobs in higher-skilled, higher paying occupations.

Those cities that have struggled over the last 100 years have merely replicated their economies. They have replaced jobs in declining industries with lower-skilled, more routinised jobs, swapping cotton mills for call centres and dock yards for distribution sheds. Some cities have struggled even to do this – Burnley has half the total number of jobs in 2013 that it did in 1911.

The developing geography of knowledge has had long-lasting implications for the performance of cities across the country, giving rise to the ‘North-South divide’. Many have diagnosed the cause of this to the decline of the traditional industries that city economies of the North and Midlands were based around. But our weakest performing cities have struggled not because of the inevitable decline of manufacturing employment, but because of their inability to support jobs growth in new, more knowledge-focused industries.

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Having begun his career in academic libraries, Adrian Janes has subsequently worked extensively in public libraries, chiefly in enquiry work as an Information Services librarian. In this role he has had particular responsibility for information from both the UK Government and the European Union. He wrote a detailed report on sources for the latter which was published by FreePint in 2007, and has contributed articles to FreePint and ResourceShelf. He is involved in training in information literacy and the use of online reference resources.

A Contributing Editor to DocuTicker, he also write reviews for Pennyblackmusic.

More articles by Adrian Janes »

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