What's really going on around the UK economy - some unexpected answers

Which region of the UK is growing the fastest? Where are house prices least affordable? Where is unemployment highest and lowest? And whose earnings are rising the fastest?

As economic questions go, they are more important than ever before, for a simple reason: Britain’s recovery is proving more divergent than in many decades. While the country’s overall economic numbers look more and more encouraging, there are nonetheless areas that are being left behind.

That was why we at Sky News have created a new application which allows you to compare all the different local regions of Britain in terms of their economic performance (whether that means house prices, earnings, unemployment and so on). I’d strongly recommend you go check it out as soon as possible – whether online, on your mobile or on your iPad.

To give you a bit of a head-start, here are a few of the insights you can find in there.

UK’s highest unemployment rate


It’s to be found in Birmingham, which had an unemployment rate of 17.3%, as of the most recent data.

The lowest can be found in Devon – a mere 3.3%.

UK’s highest and lowest salary increases

Which region of the UK had the highest wage increases according to the latest data? Big prize if you can guess this one without using the console.

The answer is Anglesey, where the average wage was up by an astonishing 12.9% in 2012. Though admittedly that’s from a low base – as you can see below, the average wage is still, at just over £20k, below the national average. However, the news isn’t all good in Wales, as the average salary in Powys dropped by 7.1% in the same year.


Overall economic growth (or contraction)

My final striking stat is the area of the UK that had the strongest growth in 2011 (the latest year for which we had comparable regional figures). According to our console (which uses data from the ONS), it was none other than Aberdeen, which expanded by 6.5% – largely thanks to the North Sea and oil output. These, by the way are “Gross Value Added” figures, a pretty good measure of output, though note they are nominal figures, so don’t adjust for inflation. The area with the worst change in overall economic output, on the other hand, was Southampton, whose economy shrank by 0.2% that year.


There are hundreds of other interesting facts buried away there, so go check the app out now. I’d recommend you start by comparing your local area with the rest of the UK – and go from there…