Economic performance and key sectors in Leeds

​​The Leeds economy is estimated to be worth £21.3 billion per annum and accounts for nearly a third of the Leeds City Region's total economic output.

Output and productivity

The city’s economy grew by 34% during the last decade, in line with Leeds City Region as a whole. Over the next ten years, the economy is forecast to grow by 21%, with financial and business services set to generate more than half of GVA growth over that period.​

Productivity, measured in terms of GVA per full time equivalent employee, is estimated at £51,300 per annum. In terms of productivity per hour worked- the headline measure of economic performance - Leeds recorded the second highest GVA per hour worked of all English core cities at £28.90 per hour.

Business outlook

There were over 32,000 VAT-registered businesses in Leeds, a net increase of 4% in the business stock, with the rate of business formation at 85 per 10,000 head of working age population. (ONS Business Demography).

The Quarterly economic survey carried out by West and North Yorkshire Chamber provides a regular finger on the pulse’ of the region’s economy, with the Quarter 4 survey for 2016 showing an increase in business confidence in all sectors.

Comparative data and analysis of the Leeds economy is available in the Cities Outlook2017, published by independent think tank Centre for Cities.

Key sectors

Growth sectors of the Leeds economy include healthcare and medical technologies, financial and business services, manufacturing, digital and creative, retail, housing and construction, social enterprise and the third sector.

Leeds is the largest centre outside London for financial and business services, digital, creative, publishing and broadcasting.  It has the second highest concentration of knowledge intensive jobs and is the third largest manufacturing centre by local authority area.

Within the financial and business service sector, there are 11 subsectors which employ more than 5,000 people, including head office activities, real estate, legal and accounting, computer programming and consultancy.

Skills development

Over 1,350 digital companies are based in Leeds with a combined workforce of around 10,000. The city has the highest number of ‘scale up’ digital companies outside the South East and workers in the sector in Leeds are amongst the highest paid in the UK.

However, vacancy numbers are increasing and there is a danger that demand from employers will outstrip supply. The city needs to retain, attract and develop graduate talent. There also needs to be confidence about the calibre and depth of the talent pool.

We asked a number of employers and education providers how to address some of these issues. The Leeds Digital Skills Action Plan is the result and it sets out actions to improve links between employers and education as well as creating entry points into the digital sector for local, national and international talent.

The plan has been in place since 2016 and was recently featured in the Government’s Digital Strategy, published in 2017, as an example of good practice.​​​​​​​​​​​​

Contact us



0113 247 5259
(Mon to Fri, 9am and 4pm)



Leeds Economy April 2017 Economy April 2017.pdf741772pdf
Leeds Economy presentation - July 2017 Economy presentation - July 2017.pdf751197pdf

Did you find what you were looking for?

Did you find the information you were looking for?