Good Growth

In many ways Wakefield recovered well from the last recession. In 2014/15 over £207m of investment came into Wakefield and the number of people claiming Job Seekers Allowance fell by 22%. The Wakefield economy is worth around £6.37bn a year and is the 30th largest economy in the UK in terms of turnover. However, what this doesn’t measure is the impact of overall growth on the earnings and quality of life on ordinary families and communities. Gross average earnings in the Wakefield district in 2015 were £460 per week, putting us 21st from bottom of the 64 cities in the 2016 Centre for Cities Cities Index.

Average pay in Wakefield is less than the Yorkshire average and over 14,000 children in Wakefield live in families in poverty even though the majority of these families have at least one member in some form of work. Low wages also lead to higher costs to the taxpayer. In 2015 alone, over £170m in Working Tax Credits to top up wages and £120m in Housing Benefit to support the housing costs went to Wakefield residents.

The task of the Good Growth Action Plan is to build and sustain economic growth that works for everyone in Wakefield district. Six key measures are being used to measure progress:

  • Average wages within the Wakefield district.
  • Percentage of Wakefield’s working age population who are economically active.
  • Percentage of Wakefield residents in work employed in low skill/low wage ‘elementary occupations’.
  • Percentage of Wakefield residents with higher level skills.
  • The balance and diversity of the Wakefield economy.
  • Housing affordability for Wakefield residents.


By 2020 the Plan will seek to close the gap in weekly median wages in the district (£461.00 in 2015) against the regional median (£480.60). The data show that earnings have been increasing, and in 2018 the gap between Wakefield District and the region had closed.

Source: ONS Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (nomis API)

Read more about earnings and income across the District.

Economic activity

By 2020 the Plan will seek to increase the proportion of economically active working age Wakefield adults (75.8% in year to December 2015) above the regional average (77.2%). Over the last seven years Wakefield's economic activity rate has tended to be higher than the regional average, but the rate fell steadily in the two years leading up to the Good Growth Plan. Over the past year the economic activity rate has risen back up above the regional rate.

Source: ONS Annual Population Survey (nomis API; last published ?)

Elementary occupations

By 2020 the Plan seeks to reduce the percentage of Wakefield people employed in ‘elementary work’ (17.1% in the year to September 2015) against the regional average (12.3%). There has been some volatility in the size of this gap and at the moment the gap is increasing slightly after narrowing markedly in the year to September 2016.

Source: ONS Annual Population Survey (nomis API; last published ?)

Read more about employment and occupations of residents and in the local economy.

Higher level skills

By 2020 the Plan will seek to narrow the gap in Wakefield adults with higher level qualifications (20.7% in 2014) against the regional average (29.8%). Over the past few years the gap has narrowed, from 9.1 to 6.4 to 4.6 percentage-points.

Source: ONS Annual Population Survey (nomis API)

Industry Diversity

By 2020 the Plan will seek to increase the percentage of employment in knowledge intensive businesses (6.4% of employment in 2013) to catch up with the regional average (11.9%). In 2017 the proportion of jobs that were in knowledge intensive businesses was 7.2%. The largest amounts of employment in this sector currently are architectural and engineering activities and related technical consultancy; legal activities; financial service activities (except insurance and pension funding); and business and other management consultancy activities.

Source: ONS BRES (nomis API)

Housing affordability

By 2020 the Plan will seek to keep housing affordability in the Wakefield district (4.8 times average earnings in 2013) better than the regional average (5.4 times average earnings). In 2019, the affordability ratio in the district was almost the same as the regional average.

Source: ONS