Gloomy outlook for City Region

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Private sector employment in Barnsley has been rising faster than in any other leading town or city, according to a new report by the Centre for Cities.

The research and policy institute dedicated to improving the economic success of cities says private sector employment in the town grew by 7.2 per cent to 46,900 between 2010 and 2011.

However, that is one of few bright points for the city region in the centre’s latest “Cities Outlook,” which studies the impact of the recession on 64 leading UK towns and cities.

Improvements in Barnsley came despite the town suffering one of the biggest falls in performance in terms of changes in unemployment, wages, active businesses and house prices.

The centre’s report also shows that despite the £90 million-plus investment in the Digital Region initiative to bring high speed broadband to around 84 per cent of the population of South Yorkshire, Sheffield is one of the ten cities with the lowest high speed broadband penetration in the UK.

South Yorkshire performed poorly in terms of business start ups and the total number of businesses per head of the population.

Barnsley and Doncaster were named among the 10 locations with the lowest business start up rates. Doncaster suffered a fall in business start-ups to 26.4 for every 10,000 residents, while Barnsley’s rate rose slightly to 26.1.

Sheffield - whose figures also include Rotherham’s - fared little better, with 28 for every 10,000 residents, well below the UK average of 41.3.

Barnsley and Doncaster were also ranked among the 10 locations with the lowest business stocks.

Doncaster suffered one of the biggest falls in business stocks – from just under 227 businesses for every 10,000 people, to just under 215, between 2010 and 2011

Meanwhile Barnsley’s stock of businesses fell from 226 for every 10,000 people in 2010 to just under 221 in 2011.

Despite this, and the fact that Barnsley is among 10 places with the lowest percentage of people with high level qualifications, the town was among 11 locations that saw employment rates rise – up by more than three per cent, according to the Centre for Cities.

Doncaster was among the 10 places with the lowest employment rates, with just under 64 per cent of the population in work, compared with a national average of 70.2 per cent, and the town was also among the 10 locations with the lowest earnings growth.

A separate analysis of the UK’s 12 major cities showed Sheffield was one of five that recorded a fall in employment .