The northern powerhouse is stoking up the coals

In the run up to GE2015, Chancellor Osborne (in particular) often referenced Conservative plans for a “northern powerhouse”. Critics assessed his commentary as lip service, a vote winner, to the northern electorate and no more.

Even as recently as six days ago, the Telegraph gave us four reasons why the north will never be the heart of manufacturing that the oft-repeated phrase engenders. Fair criticism, or Labour stalwarts miffed that the Tories have trampled on their territory?

Well, “A Conservative stronghold in the north” isn’t a phrase many people have uttered with gusto (or confidence) in the past. So, yes, you can see the critics’ perspectives. But the latest figures from CV Library, depicting job growth for Q2 2015, may change a few minds.

Ee, it’s grim down south

CV Library 9 Cities Job Growth v Job Share Q2 2015 Graph

Job growth in London remains positive despite slowing down compared to recent months. And the number of jobs in the capital is almost three times that of the nearest rival (London 17.02% vs Birmingham 5.79%). But this isn’t the headline of the latest report.

Job growth outside London is fast outpacing the capital. Despite only commanding 0.62% of the total UK job market, the number of jobs posted in Q2 sees Edinburgh top the growth chart (from Q1). Liverpool and Birmingham also trump London (4th), as they occupy second and third places.

Can the north keep on outperforming London for job growth?

The big question is, is the recorded growth a flash in the pan or is it sustainable? There are two key issues occurring in the background that may suggest the Q2 figures are the start of a trend.

HS2 is the first aspect we must consider. With commuting time to the capital set to be slashed upon HS2’s introduction, we’ll begin to see the capital’s wealth trickle northwards, almost parallel to the M6. With Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds holding 2nd, 3rd and 4th spots in the current job share tables as it is, the gap will reduce further in anticipation.

That’s great for the UK economy. What’s not so positive is the worry in The City over the larger financial institutions. Moreover, what they’re going to do next. The bank levies announced in the budget will give many economists (and shareholders) a sleepless night or two until the dust settles.

We may already be seeing the effect of some banks holding out on posting new positions while they consider their long term options. If that’s also the beginning of a trend, then the UK may well need a northern powerhouse as the Chancellor alluded last summer to replace London’s dominance as the centre of world trade. Not that we want to get our City Slickers in a twist, of coure.

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