This Briefing Paper forms part of the evidence base for Oxfordshire 20:20 Sustainable Community Strategy and update of Economic Development Strategy for Oxfordshire.
Oxfordshire County Council (Environment & Economy Directorate)
- Andrew Chadwick (Research Associate, Department of Planning)
- total grant value: £3,800
- time duration: May - June 2007
This project provided a review of statistical and other relevant evidence on the current health and performance of the Oxfordshire economy. This review formed part of the Economy Theme evidence base for the preparation by the County Council of a Sustainable Community Strategy for Oxfordshire (known as Oxfordshire 20:20). The project also involved updating of evidence on the international economic environment, which formed an input to an update of Oxfordshire's Economic Development Strategy (EDSO).
The project involved a review of secondary statistical data and other relevant evidence to provide snapshot of the current health of the Oxfordshire economy. In order to benchmark the county's economic performance, comparisons were made with Oxfordshire's immediate neighbours, and with regional and national averages. Evidence reviewed included the following:
- Measures of overall economic performance - including output per head, household incomes, earnings;
- Other indicators of economic health - including business start up and survival rates, employment growth, employment and inactivity rates, claimant unemployment, numbers of benefit claimants, and qualifications;
- Key economic sectors - including measures of economic diversity and specialisation, employment change by sector, and Oxfordshire's high-tech economy;
- Wider economic context - including economic self-containment and comparisons with geographic neighbours;
- Other relevant evidence - including business perceptions and other issues of interest (e.g. effects of migration; ageing population).
Data was provided for Oxfordshire as a whole, and wherever possible for each of the county's local authority districts. Although largely providing a snapshot of the cur health of the Oxfordshire economy, data on recent trends in key economic indicators was also examined, and information on future trends was included where possible.
In addition, the review incorporated evidence on the international economic environment (as part of the EDSO update). This included:
- International comparisons of productivity (for UK and G7 countries);
- Comparisons of productivity between the South East region and other top performing international regions;
- The global challenge - recent and projected changes in the share of global output taken by different countries; growth of output and exports in selected countries.
The study revealed that Oxfordshire's performance across a range of headline economic indicators, and on measures of enterprise and innovation, compares favourably with South East and national averages. Positive indicators include:
- High levels of output per head and output growth;
- High economic activity and employment rates;
- Very low levels of unemployment;
- Above average business survival rates and strong growth in the number of businesses;
- High knowledge intensity in Oxfordshire's employment (despite recent poor growth); and
- The presence of several high-tech and knowledge-based clusters, showing that the Oxfordshire economy is characterised by "diverse specialisation".
Set against these strengths, the study also highlighted a number of concerns about the county's recent economic performance. These include:
- Relatively low earnings levels;
- Below average rates of employment growth in recent years;
- High knowledge intensity but relatively poor recent employment growth in knowledge-based sectors, particularly when compared with some of Oxfordshire's immediate neighbours;
- A highly skilled workforce but below average levels of educational attainment; and
- The effect of high house prices on staff recruitment and retention.
- Oxfordshire 20:20 Economy Theme Briefing Paper: Evidence Base, June 2007 (report to Oxfordshire County Council)