Huddersfield has lost more than 10,000 jobs in just 10 years, according to a shock survey today.
A major study of 63 UK towns and cities ranks Huddersfield as one of the worst performers in the country for creating jobs and growth.
The report by independent think tank Centre for Cities, showed employment across the town fell by 10,700 or 6.7% between 2004 and 2013 – putting Huddersfield 57th in the national list ahead of only Grimsby, Hull, Newport, Blackpool, Rochdale and Gloucester.
Among 10 Yorkshire and Humber towns and cities surveyed, only Sheffield shed more jobs at 11,160 while Bradford was third-worst with 8,562 job losses. Only Leeds and York increased overall employment – by 1,925 and 368 respectively.
However, the survey showed the number of businesses in Huddersfield rose by 1,515 or 13%. Only Leeds with 3,420 new businesses, Bradford with 1,715 and Sheffield with 1,560 did better.
The figures for job losses and start-ups come against a background of a rising population. Numbers in Huddersfield rose by 30,800 or 8% between 2004 and 2013. Only Sheffield, Bradford and Leeds saw higher population growth – of 47,400, 41,700 and 38,500 respectively.
The 2015 Cities Outlook report said the gap between Britain’s best and worst-performing towns and cities had dramatically widened since 2004 to create “a two-tier economy of dynamism and decline” broadly separating the north and south.
It found that for every 12 jobs created between 2004 and 2013 in cities in the south of England, only one was created in cities throughout the rest of the country.
It said: “National growth between 2004 and 2013 was largely driven by only a handful of cities – mainly located in the south – which have seen their populations boom, their number of business grow and thousands of new jobs created.
“At the same time in other cities, migration of young and skilled workers, a lack of business growth and falling employment opportunities have led their economies to contract.”
Dave Harvey, senior lecturer in strategy, marketing and economics at Huddersfield University, said the report underlined the need for northern towns and cities to work together to build a powerful regional economy – not least by improving trans-Pennine transport links “between Manchester and Leeds and all points in between.”
He said: “In most modern economies around the world, the second city is at least half the size of the main city.
“In the UK, this not the case because London is so dominant in terms of population and economic power. We have to get a second big-hitting city. We could do that by linking Manchester and Leeds as a northern powerhouse.”
Mr Harvey added: “We have to find ways to make it attractive for our talented young people who get degrees to come back to work in Huddersfield rather than feel they have to go to London to get their careers going.
“We still have a strong manufacturing industry but most manufacturing companies do not employ as many people as they used to. We have to invest in skills and support industries that need them.”