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Why is Manchester one of Europe’s fastest growing cities?

Manchester City Council recently released its annual State of the City Report for 2018, which officially confirmed that Manchester’s economic growth is now on a par with the top-performing European cities. 

This fact is unlikely to surprise anyone familiar with the city’s recent process of transformation and augurs well for the future, regardless of the form Brexit ultimately takes, especially since Manchester has very strong links with major economies outside of Europe.

Here are three key points from the report…

A growing population of well-educated people

Since 2015, Manchester’s population has grown by almost 6% (from 539,600 to 572,000) and 40% of these people are educated to at least degree level.

These graduates are a mix of people who have attended the local universities and have then gone on to being their professional careers in the city (65% of graduates from Manchester’s universities stay in the city after graduating) and people returning to Manchester after having completed their degree elsewhere (36% of the people from Manchester who study at universities outside the city, return home after graduation), together with people from other parts of the UK, especially the south, who come to Manchester for its combination of a wide range of employment opportunities and an affordable cost of living, not to mention its blend of urban amenities and great countryside.

An active and diversified economy

Even though Manchester is still home to a number of manufacturing plants, it has been working hard to move into knowledge-intensive industries and is now recognized as a major hub of the digital economy, with over a fifth of the population being employed in the financial, professional and scientific sector. 

While it is possible that there will be a slowdown in the financial-services niche due to Brexit (although this is not guaranteed), this sector is still a fairly small part of Manchester’s overall economy, the general robustness of which means that it is reasonable to expect anyone made redundant due to Brexit to be able to find alternative employment fairly easily.

A need to focus on building to continue economic growth

Whereas Manchester was once synonymous with manufacturing, in recent years it’s become identified with construction as the city authorities have turned to private housing developers to fill the gaps in the city’s housing stock.

While this has gone a long way to reducing the level of unfulfilled demand, the need for house-building is likely to continue into the future, partly as a result of population growth (Manchester is expected to have a population of 644,100 by 2025) and partly as a result of the need to update existing housing stock to meet modern requirements.

It’s also worth noting that in addition to standard residential housing, Manchester also has a growing need for purpose-built student accommodation and also accommodation tailored to the needs and wants of older people.

This last point is likely to become of growing importance as the years go by as a growing population will, eventually, lead to a growing population of older people.

*Mark Burns is managing director of Indlu Estate Agents 

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