About Bradford's economy


Economy size

  • Bradford has a big economy worth over £8.3bn, the third largest in the Yorkshire region after Leeds and Sheffield. Economic growth since 2008 has outstripped the regional and national averages. Bradford is forecast to contribute 15.4% of the total growth within the Leeds City Region to 2020

Businesses and jobs

  • There are 15,200 businesses employing 192,200 people in Bradford. Bradford accounts for 15% of the total employment in the Leeds City Region. 
  • A number of major companies have their headquarters in the district including Morrisons, Yorkshire Building Society, Santander and Hallmark Cards. 
  • Bradford is a producer city. There are 1,280 production businesses in Bradford (manufacturing, energy and utilities) employing 24,700 people in the district accounting for 12.8% of all employees compared to 9.8% in Great Britain as a whole 
  • Bradford has the 5th highest number of manufacturing jobs in the UK. The value of production output in the district increased between 2008 and 2010 to £1.9bn – 23.5% of Bradford’s total GVA. 
  • Bradford has a powerful culture of entrepreneurship. 29,200 people in the district are self-employed and the level of business start ups has been strong during 2012 
  • A recent report from Duport.co.uk shows that there were 2,004 new company formations in Bradford in 2012, a 7% increase on 2011 and more than any year on record for the area. The research also places Bradford at number 22 in the top 100 UK towns for company growth, well ahead of neighbouring cities Leeds and Sheffield, who came in 44th and 80th respectively

Bradford City Centre

  • The city centre remains the key location for employment in the district, particularly office based employment. There are 33,500 jobs located in Bradford city centre which is one in six jobs in Bradford district. There are 10,300 jobs in financial and business services, 12,200 in the public sector, 3,600 in retail and 1,400 in accommodation and food based in the city centre 
  • Bradford’s city centre is a top 40 UK retail centre generating £440 million of retail expenditure in 2011 according to CACI Retail Footprint data. The edge of centre Forster Square Retail Park generated a further £190 million. As a whole the city attracts over 10 million shoppers a year 
  • High streets across the country have suffered since the downturn. Job numbers in Bradford city centre have declined over the last 4 years and shop vacancy rates in the city centre are currently at 11%. However, footfall has increased significantly and local businesses have reported and increase in spend since the opening of City Park

Labour market and skills

  • Bradford’s labour market position is relatively poor when compared to regional and national averages, and the effects of the recession are still being felt 
  • Bradford’s employment rate at 64.2% remains significantly below the UK average (70.6%), and unemployment rate at 12.9% is significantly higher than the UK. Bradford also has a high level of economic activity (the highest in the Yorkshire & Humber region) 
  • However, substantial improvements were made over the year to December 2012 in all the key labour market indicators, with an additional 12,000 people finding employment and 8,100 fewer unemployed or inactive during this period 
  • 81,800 people of working age in Bradford are highly qualified (degree level or above). However there are 49,500 working age people with no qualifications, a higher proportion of the population than the regional and national averages 
  • Mean weekly full-time earnings for Bradford residents are £427, well below regional and national averages. Since 2008 growth in earnings has been at a slightly faster rate than regional and national growth and the gap has narrowed slightly

Commuting flows

  • Bradford receives a significant net inflow of commuters from Leeds, Kirklees, Calderdale and Craven. 45,000 people commute into Bradford to work and 41,500 people commute out - a total of 86,500 commuter trips every day. 37,000 of these are made between Leeds and Bradford

Visitor economy

  • Bradford has been designated the world’s first UNESCO City of Film, Bradford is a thriving cultural destination with a packed events calendar, award winning museums and galleries and impressive theatres. Saltaire model village is one of only two World Heritage sites in Yorkshire while the National Media Museum in the city centre is among the most visited museums outside London averaging 650,000 visitors a year 
  • An estimated 9.2 million people visit the district each year. The volume of staying trips into the district is estimated at 626,000 trips per year, 91% of which are made by domestic visitors and 9% by overseas visitors. Staying visitors spend an estimated 2.4 million nights in the district. Bradford theatres attract 380,000 visits a year

Economic development

  • Despite a challenging global economic climate, Bradford is delivering a steady stream of wealth creating projects and is a city centre that offers real potential for growth 
  • Significant public investment has focused on improving the quality of the public realm including the award winning City Park and Bradford Heritage Streets improvements

For more information and statistics about the local economy, go to the Economic Intelligence page.

Underline image

Other pages in this section

Rate this page

The feedback you provide will help us continue to make improvements to our website.


Council Switchboard : 01274 432111

Council Address : Britannia House, Hall Ings, Bradford BD1 1HX

© 2017 City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council