Until the 1970s, Sheffield had boasted virtually full employment, with unemployment rates consistently below the national average. The global oil shock of 1974 and the increasing globalisation of trade and manufacturing dealt a major blow to British industry and Sheffield was among the cities hardest hit. Factory closures in Sheffield, which had begun in the late 1970s, accelerated through the 1980s, with the local unemployment rate exceeding the national average for the first time in 1981. It almost trebled in just four years, rising from 4% in 1978 to 11.3% in 1981. By 1984 unemployment stood at 15.5%, and the manufacturing industry which had employed almost 50% of the city’s workforce in 1971 employed just 24% by 1984.
By the early 1990s Sheffield had experienced such a rapid and unexpected decline that many were worried about what the future held. The City Council, which had so far been powerless to intervene, decided it needed to boost the local economy with a powerful and ambitious spending scheme, investing in to the city region in order to stimulate market activity.
Cut to today and Sheffield is a different city and the heart of a reborn region. The Sheffield economy is experiencing a strong revival. According to an economic strategy document published by the Council, current GVA per head is £17,752 with the average salary standing at £24,328. Their strategy is to have Sheffield performing as one of the top economies in the country by 2020.
Increasing the number of new businesses and investment in research by 50% and building 150,000 new homes are among the recommendations, and Sheffield is well on track to meeting these goals.
Following on from these ambitious plans was the incredible announcement that the world’s largest aerospace and communications company, Boeing, will establish a UK base in Sheffield. The announcement was received with delight by a city whose proud industrial heritage coupled with its innovative plans for the future make it the ideal place for a global company to headquarter itself in the UK.
The Northern Powerhouse, the Government’s plan to rebalance the economy away from an over-dependence on London, has seen largescale investment pour into Sheffield and contribute to the positive situation the city now finds itself in. More and more people are moving to South Yorkshire to be a part of the exciting future on offer.
In response, property values are increasing sharply and rents have seen a sharp upturn thanks to the aforementioned inward migration. The economy and employment figures are growing and are contributing to a vibrant atmosphere and a city with a feel-good factor. Sheffield has shown that it can compete with its Northern Powerhouse partner cities like Manchester and Liverpool.
Landlords and investors are beginning to take Sheffield very seriously. Modern creative and digital industries are lighting the city up and attracting the students and professional workers who want high quality rental accommodation. Sheffield is a city of hope and aspiration which is on the way up.
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