About Bradford's economy


  • Bradford is the 4th largest metropolitan authority in England with a growing population of 531,000.
  • 23.7% of the population are aged under 16 compared with 18.8% nationally making Bradford the youngest city in the UK.
  • Bradford has a diverse population with ethnic minorities making up 36% of the total population. There are 153 languages spoken by children attending schools in the district.

Read the latest statistics on the population of Bradford District.

Economy size

  • Bradford has a big economy worth over £9.5bn, the eighth largest in England and the third largest in the Yorkshire region after Leeds and Sheffield.
  • Bradford’s economy is growing fast. GVA increased by 3.7% between 2014 and 2015, outpacing national growth of 2.6% and Leeds City Region growth of 3.4%.
  • The Bradford economy is set to grow by around 25% over the next decade and will contribute 15.4% of the total growth within the Leeds City Region to 2020.

Businesses and jobs

  • There are 17,620 businesses employing 198,600 people in Bradford District. Bradford accounts for 15% of the total employment in the Leeds City Region.
  • The number of businesses has increased significantly in the last three years rising from 15,145 in 2013 to 17,620 in 2016. This was an increase of 16% that was higher than Leeds City Region and UK.
  • A number of major companies have their headquarters in the district including Morrisons, Provident Financial, Yorkshire Building Society and Hallmark Cards. This includes two FTSE 100 companies, more than any other city in the Northern Powerhouse.
  • Bradford based companies employ over 250,000 people across the UK with a combined turnover of more than £30 billion.
  • There are 1,200 manufacturing businesses in Bradford (manufacturing, energy and utilities) employing 25,000 people in the district accounting for 13% of all employees compared to 8.3% in Great Britain as a whole.
  • Bradford has the 4th highest number of manufacturing jobs of any city in the UK after London, Birmingham and Leeds.
  • Bradford’s thriving digital sector is a key component of our ‘Producer City’ economy with 700 businesses employing 4,500 people.
  • Bradford has a powerful culture of entrepreneurship. 33,400 people in the district are self-employed. Self employment has increased by 23.2% since 2010 compared with a UK rise of 18.1%.
  • A recent survey of FedEx customers found that Bradford SME businesses had the highest rate of international trading in the UK with 86% of Bradford companies using FedEx services trading internationally.

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 There are 10,700 jobs in financial and business services, 10,500 in the public sector, 3,800 in retail and 1,700 in accommodation and food services based in the city centre 
  • Bradford’s city centre is a top UK retail centre generating £423 million of comparison retail expenditure in 2015 according to CACI Retail Footprint data. The development of The Broadway shopping centre has brought a whole new dimension to the city, accelerating the city’s retail ranking by 29 places and drawing in millions more shoppers to the city centre.
  • The city has seen over £1 billion of investment in the city over the last seven years including the Broadway shopping centre, the Southgate office development and three new hotels.
  • Significant public investment has focused on improving the quality of the public realm including the award winning City Park and Bradford Heritage Streets improvements.
  • Bradford’s City Centre Growth Zone has supported 160 companies to create 625 new jobs stimulating £15 million of capital investment in the city and bringing 47 vacant properties into use.
  • City Centre footfall has risen and more 20 new cafes, bars and restaurants have opened in the City Centre in last three years.

Labour market and skills

  • The number of people in work increased by 5,600 (2.6%) over the year to December 2016, This growth was much stronger than the 0.3% growth seen nationally.
  • Unemployment is at it’s lowest level since 2008 and now stands at around 16,000 people.
  • 79,600 people of working age in Bradford are highly qualified (degree level or above). However there are 44,900 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 £473.50, which is below regional (£498.30) and national (£541.00) levels. Since 2008 growth in earnings has been faster rate than regional and national growth and the gap has narrowed.

Commuting flows

  • 46,000 people commute between Bradford and Leeds each day, the largest flow between any two cities in the UK. Bradford receives a significant net inflow of commuters from Kirklees and Calderdale.

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 Science and 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 Strategy

Bradford Economic Partnership have launched a new Economic Strategy for Bradford district that will focus on identifying the actions that will bring the most benefit to Bradford’s economy.

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