Jobs Density Trends in South West England: Which Areas Have Improved the Most?

While a low unemployment rate around 3.5% in South West England is generally good news for job seekers, the relative ease or difficulty of finding a local job varies significantly from area to area. In which areas of South West England is it easiest or hardest for a job seeker to find employment in the area in which they live? And which areas have seen the biggest percentage improvement or decline over the past few years?

In order to get an idea of the odds faced by job hunters in different areas, we gathered jobs density data back to 2014 from the Office of National Statistics for each local authority in South West England. Jobs density (the number of jobs divided by the number of residents) gives an indication of the number of jobs available for each job seeker. A higher jobs density is better, offering residents more possibilities and choice of employment.

Which South West Local Authorities have the Most Jobs per Person?

According to the most recent data, job seekers living in Cheltenham, Poole, Cotswold, North Devon, West Dorset and Exeter have the best odds of finding employment, with more than one job for every resident (that is, a "jobs density" over 1).

At the other end of the spectrum, the jobs density of Weymouth & Portland, Torridge and Forest of Dean is only 0.56, 0.63 and 0.63, respectively—meaning there's just over one job for every two residents between the ages of 16 and 64 in these areas.

Jobs Density by South West Local Authority

How many jobs are there for each working-age resident?

Chart showing the number of jobs per resident across South West boroughs

Local Authorities in the South West Ranked by Best to Worst Jobs Density

Rank (1 = Best, 36 = Worst)Local AuthorityJobs Density (jobs per resident)
1Exeter1.18
2West Dorset1.14
3North Devon1.05
4Cotswold1.04
5Poole1.02
6Cheltenham1.01
7Bristol, City of0.98
8Tewkesbury0.97
9South Hams0.96
10West Somerset0.96
11Taunton Deane0.95
12Swindon0.93
13South Gloucestershire0.93
14Wiltshire0.90
15East Devon0.89
16Stroud0.88
17South Somerset0.88
18Mendip0.87
19Christchurch0.87
20Bath and North East Somerset0.86
21Gloucester0.85
22Cornwall0.83
23East Dorset0.81
24Purbeck0.79
25Mid Devon0.78
26West Devon0.78
27Plymouth0.78
28North Somerset0.77
29North Dorset0.77
30Teignbridge0.76
31Bournemouth0.75
32Torbay0.74
33Sedgemoor0.71
34Forest of Dean0.63
35Torridge0.63
36Weymouth and Portland0.56
South West Average0.88
UK Average0.84

Local Trend Analysis: Has Jobs Density Improved or Deteriorated?

Humans tend to thrive when their situation is improving, no matter their circumstances. To get an idea of how areas are improving (or deteriorating) for job seekers, we also calculated the percentage change in jobs density for each local area over three years—are there more jobs per resident now, or fewer?

Local Trend Analysis: Has Jobs Density Improved or Deteriorated?

Job seekers in Devon and Wiltshire will have noticed the largest percentage improvement in job prospects between 2014 and 2016, during which time the number of jobs per resident (i.e., the jobs density) improved by 22% in East Devon, 20% in Mid Devon and 18% in Wiltshire. North and West Devon were not far behind with 11% and 15% improvements, respectively.

Five local areas have seen their jobs density deteriorate over the same time period: Torridge (-11%), East Dorset (-6%), North Dorset (-4%), Torbay (-1%) and West Somerset (-1%). Basically, residents of these local authorities are competing more, having fewer job prospects.

Change in Jobs Density by South West Local Authority

Local Authorities in the South West Ranked by Best to Worst Jobs Density

Rank (1 = Best, 36 = Worst)Local AuthorityImprovement in Jobs Density (jobs per resident)
1East Devon21.9%
2Mid Devon20.0%
3Wiltshire18.4%
4West Devon14.7%
5North Devon10.5%
6Tewkesbury10.2%
7West Dorset9.6%
8Mendip8.7%
9Christchurch8.7%
10North Somerset8.5%
11South Hams7.9%
12Swindon6.9%
13Forest of Dean6.8%
14Stroud6.0%
15Taunton Deane5.6%
16Bristol, City of5.4%
17Cheltenham5.2%
18South Gloucestershire4.5%
19Teignbridge4.1%
20Poole4.1%
21Cornwall3.7%
22Weymouth and Portland3.7%
23Gloucester3.7%
24South Somerset3.5%
25Exeter3.5%
26Cotswold3.0%
27Sedgemoor2.9%
28Plymouth2.6%
29Purbeck2.6%
30Bournemouth1.4%
31Bath and North East Somerset1.2%
32West Somerset-1.0%
33Torbay-1.3%
34North Dorset-3.8%
35East Dorset-5.8%
36Torridge-11.3%
South West Average5.5%
UK Average6.3%

Methodology

To measure the abundance of job possibilities for local residents, we gathered the most recent Jobs Density data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), published in January 2018. Jobs data mostly reflect employees from Business Register and Employment Survey (BRES) and also include self-employed, HM Forces and government-supported trainees. Taking the most recent three years worth of data, we were able to calculate how Jobs Density changed between 2014 and 2016 for each local authority. These calculations capture a trend, showing the improvement or deterioration in number of jobs per working-age resident (aged 16 to 64) for each area.

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