Greater Manchester Local Economic Assessment: Bolton

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Greater Manchester Local Economic Assessment:


A report for

Association of Greater Manchester Authorities


11 November 2010

Dr Alexander Roy

Head of Economic Analysis


1.1Bolton is a borough of contrasts, with some of the most and least deprived areas in the country. About half of the area is built up, but the rest is countryside, either in agricultural use or open moorland. The metropolitan core of the borough is a place of economic scale and significance – being one of two town centres in Greater Manchester outside the city core with economic critical mass and diversity, and the sixth largest employment centre in North West in its own right. As such, Bolton is well placed to contribute to the growth and competitiveness of Greater Manchester not only as a supplier of skills and labour but as an important economic centre location in its own right, particularly for the north of the city.

1.2The significance of Bolton as an economic centre is highlighted by travel-to-work flows, which show that Bolton is has the most self-contained economy of any authority bar the City of Manchester, which is host to the majority of the city centre. In total, 66.8% of Bolton residents work within the borough, with the majority of out-commuters going to the urban core of the Cities of Manchester and Salford, though there is also significant cross-commuting with Bury.

1.3Whilst Bolton is closely interconnected with the Greater Manchester economy, it also remains well connected to the historic county of Lancashire, providing employment, labour and services to areas like Chorley and Blackburn with Darwen, and even Preston.

Figure 1: Local Physical Assets in Bolton

101021_bolton key employment

Source: Ordinance Survey 2010


2.1In total, 112,000 people are employed in the Bolton economy, the fourth highest district in Greater Manchester. Bolton’s economy was historically built upon manufacturing, particularly textiles, but this sector has experienced significant decline and restructuring since the 1980s. However, manufacturing remains the main employer within Bolton, accounting for nearly 14 % of the workforce, though this has declined by nearly a third over the last decade. There remains a strong engineering base in Bolton, which accounts for over a third of manufacturing employment in the borough, and advanced manufacturing sector employs 3.9 % of the workforce (marginally above the national average of 3.8%).

2.2Other economic sectors have grown strongly in Bolton to compensate for the loss of manufacturing employment, particularly financial & professional services, which is now the second largest sector in the borough, marginally behind manufacturing with 13 % of employment – whilst the sector has been significantly impacted by the recession, it is forecast to overtake manufacturing as the main employer in 2011.

2.3Outside manufacturing, Bolton has seen strong employment growth across the board over the last decade, but with particular gains in construction, hospitality & tourism, logistics, creative services and ICT digital, which have all seen double-digit growth.

2.4There are several key private sector employers in Bolton. The baker Warburtons is based in Bolton and as the third largest bread manufacturer in the UK provides a major source of employment in the borough. With around 5,000 employees in its UK business, Warburton’s is a family-run business that originated in Bolton.

2.5Stateside Foods is another food & drink manufacturer based in Bolton, with its head office at the Wingates Industrial Estate plus a nearby production facility. A manufacturer of chilled and frozen pizzas, Stateside is on of the largest companies in its market.

2.6MBDA Systems, a manufacturer of missiles and missile systems, has a factory in Lostock that provides production facilities to support BAe Systems. Other key private sector employers emblematic of the growth of the Financial and Professional services sector include AXA, RBS, E-On and Keoghs whilst firms such as Watson Steel and Leigh’s Paints have become world-leaders in manufacturing with links to major projects like the 2012 Olympics..

Figure 2 Bolton employment composition, 2008


HOSPITALITY & TOURISM: 5.8% (+24.4%)

CONSTRUCTION: 6.8% (+22.0%)

EDUCATION 8.9% (+13.1%)








RETAIL: 11.6%


SPORT: 1.1%




ICT DIGITAL: 1.7% (+106.0%)


5.0% (-34.7%)


FOOD & DRINK: 2.5%








HEALTH: 12.0% (+11.4%)


FINANCIAL: 3.6% (+57.1%)

MANUFACTURING: 13.8% (-34.6%)


High Growth Growth Decline High Decline

(98-08) (98-08) (98-08) (98-08)

Source: Annual Business Inquiry, 2008

2.7Bolton has a relatively high proportion of public sector employment, with 24,400 jobs making up 22.8% of total employment, above the Greater Manchester and national rates. There are an estimated 2,100 jobs (2.0% of total jobs) in the private sector that can be classified as “para-state sector”, where employment is dependent on government support. This sector is made up of activities like rubbish collection, the post office and certain research facilities that are heavily reliant on public sector funding and thus may be particularly vulnerable to public sector cuts.1 Bolton has a larger para-state sector than the national average.

Figure 3: Public sector, para-state sector and private sector employment in Bolton

Source: ABI 2008 Sub-regional public and private sector

2.8A key sub sector is other human health activities, which employs 2,200 people and makes up 2.1% of total employment in Bolton. This is in comparison to 1.4% in Greater Manchester and 1.3% across Great Britain. This sub sector encompasses a variety of general health services including blood banks, ambulance services, health centres and chiropodists.

2.9General (overall) public service activities is another disproportionately large sub sector, with 3,500 employees making up 3.3% of total employment, compared to 2.2% in Greater Manchester and 2.3% in Great Britain. This sub sector includes a number of activities including local government administration, economic and social planning administration and tax collection. This sector is at high risk from public sector cuts, with local government, and other government bodies likely to lose jobs in the short term.

2.10Within education, primary education has a particularly high level of employment, with 5,700 people employed, accounting for 5.3% of total employment, well above the local and national average of 4.1%. The Government has however indicated that primary education will be largely protected from public sector cuts.

Figure: 4: Sub sectors with high levels of employment indexed against the national average

Source: ABI 2008

2.11Employment outside the public sector has fallen in Bolton over the last five years, with a 2.1% decrease, accounting for 1,700 jobs. This is in contrast to the growth demonstrated by GM (2.4%) and Great Britain (5.4%).

2.12There are several key public sector employers in Bolton. Apart from Bolton University, key public sector employers include Bolton Council, Bolton Hospital Trust, Bolton PCT and Bolton College. It is important to note that PCTs are being dissolved and their functions transferred to local authorities. While some jobs will be transferred, there is likely to be a loss of employment as a result of this development.

2.13Figure 5 below shows that the public sector in Bolton grew significantly between 2005 and 2008. Overall there was an increase of 2,000 jobs in the public sector, making. This is an 8.9% increase, higher than both in GM (3.7%) and in Great Britain (4.9%).

Figure 5: Public sector and private sector growth in Bolton and Greater Manchester, indexed 2003-2008

Source: ONS Sub-regional public and private sector Estimates

Figure 6: Indexed public and private sector growth forecasts 2009-2020

Source: GMFM 2010

2.14The Greater Manchester Forecasting model provides an indication of the likely employment growth in both the private and public sector in the future, as illustrated in Figure 6. These forecasts indicate that employment will decline in Bolton over the short term, with private sector employment set to decline by 2.6% by 2012, and public sector employment seeing a decline of 1%. However, Bolton’s public sector will grow in the long term, with a 4.8% increase in employment forecast between 2009 and 2020.

2.15Bolton has a marginally higher business density (441 businesses per 10,000 population) than the Greater Manchester average (439) and has also seen marginally stronger growth since 2000 (10% cf. 9% in GM), which suggests growth in the borough’s SME base that can be a foundation for future development of private sector employment.

2.16However, as a whole the borough still punches below its weight in productivity terms (as measured by gross value added (GVA) per employee). Levels of GVA growth between 1997 and 2007 were 9.1%, compared with the national rate of +30.7%. This reflects the contraction in private sector employment over the last decade, and shows that the growth that has occurred has not been in high-value businesses and employment. Whilst there has been a significant increase in the numbers of knowledge-intensive businesses in Bolton over the last decade (24.3 % between 2000 and 2008), the borough still has a relatively small knowledge intensive sector (14.2% of total business base) compared to the national average (19.4%).

2.17Despite good growth in workplace wages in Bolton over the last decade (+29.2% between 2000 and 2008, just below the Greater Manchester average of +31.5%), the borough still has the third lowest earnings in Greater Manchester, both in terms of resident wages (£445 median weekly wage) and workplace earnings (£412), significantly lower than the Greater Manchester and UK averages.

Figure 7 Resident and workplace earnings, full-time workers, median wages, 2009


























































Greater Manchester










Great Britain





Source: ASHE, 2009

2.18The higher level of wages for residents indicates that many of Bolton’s higher earners access higher value employment opportunities outside the borough. Resident wages have seen slower growth over the last decade (+24.5%) than the Greater Manchester as a whole (+26.2%), this further suggests that Bolton’s residents have been less able to access higher-value employment within the city region core than residents of other Greater Manchester local authorities.

2.19This data would suggest that , a key challenge for Bolton is to better equip its residents with the skills needed to access higher-value employment opportunities in the private sector – both within and outside of the borough – and ensure that businesses within the Bolton economy are able to move up the value chain and develop higher productivity activities. This is reflected in the Council’s soon to be adopted Economy and Skills Action Plan, which is particularly focused on these issues.

2.20Bolton already has a key asset in the University of Bolton, which provides it with the largest centre of learning and innovation in the GM North, and has hi-tech specialisms in areas such as gaming design, information technology, and health. The area also has an important centre of private sector research and innovation in the Hitachi European Automotive R&D facility, and there is also some evidence that parts of the textiles industry have diversified to focus on product design and take advantage of the advanced materials expertise of the University. It is in key areas such as this that Bolton will be able to build on the growth of recent years and capitalise on future higher-value opportunities.

2Business Summary

  • Bolton has seen an above average growth of 8.9% in public sector employment over the last five years, whilst private sector employment by 2%. This indicates the vulnerability of Bolton’s economy to public sector cuts and the current weakness of the private sector.

  • Manufacturing remains the largest sector in Bolton, employing 14,800 people and accounting for 13.8% of total employment. However, this sector is in long-term decline, having shed 7,800 jobs in the last ten years, and is forecast to continue to contract in employment terms, albeit at a slower rate, since manufacturers need to keep increasing productivity in order to remain globally competitive.

  • Many of the key private sector employers in the borough are manufacturing businesses, with Warburtons bakers and Stateside Food providing significant employment for Bolton’s residents.

  • Nevertheless, there has been significant restructuring of the economy towards services, with the second largest sector in Bolton, financial & professional services seeing an increase in employment of 4,200 new jobs over the last decade.

  • Both workplace and resident wages in Bolton are below those of Greater Manchester. Growth in wages over the last ten years has been relatively strong, but the borough still has the third lowest average wage in the conurbation, which is linked to the lack of high value jobs in the area as well as the low skill levels in of Bolton residents, as explored further below.

  • Higher levels of resident wages highlight that many of the borough’s more skilled residents travel outside of the area to access high-value jobs.

  • Bolton has seen an increase in knowledge-intensive business employment of nearly a quarter over the last decade, but the sector still remains small compared to the rest of Greater Manchester.

  • Nevertheless, Bolton has significant knowledge assets that can help to drive future fuel business growth. In particular, the University of Bolton, the largest centre of learning in GM North, provides opportunities for innovation and supporting hi-tech enterprise growth.


3.1Just over 262,000 people live in Bolton, mainly in and around Bolton town centre and surrounding townships, including Farnworth, Horwich and Wethoughton. This large resident population provides the borough with a key economic asset that has driven growth.

3.2However, the borough suffers from a low skills base that hampers its ability to move towards higher-value and more productive economic activities. As with other predominantly industrial districts in GM North, only a fifth (21.5%) of Bolton residents hold at least degree level-qualifications (NVQ4+), compared to just over a quarter (25.1%) in Greater Manchester as a whole, and well below the national average of 28.9%. Overall, Bolton’s workforce has more lower-level qualifications than the Greater Manchester average and slightly fewer with no qualifications.

Figure 8 Skills profile of working age residents, 2008

Source: Annual Population Survey, 2010

3.3Whilst Bolton’s employment (70.9%) and unemployment rates (8.0%) are better than Greater Manchester as a whole, they both lag national averages – with lower skills a crucial hindrance to improving employability and reducing worklessness. And whilst Bolton saw a fall in the number of JSA claimants in the last year (-3.1%), and currently has a claimant rate that is in line with the Greater Manchester average (4.8%), fewer highly-skilled residents and the legacy of the industrial decline has resulted in high levels of worklessness, with over 35,000 people economically inactive in Bolton.

Figure 9 Employment, Unemployment and JSA rates


Employment Rate

Oct 2008-Sept 2009

Unemployment Rate

Oct 2008-Sept 2009

JSA Claimant

October 2010













Source: Annual Population Survey, 2010

Figure 10 Total benefit claimants in Bolton by neighbourhood, 2009


Source: DWP, Work and Pensions Longitudinal Survey, 2010

3.4Within Bolton, benefit claimants are mainly clustered around the town centre and surrounding areas. Areas just north of Bolton town centre, as well as areas of Halliwell and Derby also exhibit high numbers of benefit claimants, whilst the numbers drop in the smaller towns such as Horwich and Blackrod.

3.5A band of high numbers of benefit claimants also follows the more residential districts towards Farnworth and Harper Green. However, in comparison to Greater Manchester as a whole, there are large parts of Bolton with very few benefit claimants.

3.6Employment Support Allowance (ESA)2 claims make up a significant component of this worklessness, with Bolton having a higher rate of claims (10.1%) than the Greater Manchester average (9.6%). Bolton’s Central Old Ward – which is just part of a concentration of claimants around Bolton town centre – has the third highest claimant rate of in Greater Manchester, at 20.3%. The effects of persistent and intergenerational worklessness are pockets of acute deprivation that exist within the borough of Bolton, often lying close to areas of much greater affluence and opportunity.

Figure 11: Deprivation in Bolton


Source: ONS (2007), IMD

3.7A consequence of high levels of worklessness is higher levels of child poverty (25.2%) compared to the national average (21.6%). Whilst this rate is marginally lower than the Greater Manchester average of 26.6%, overall Bolton has the third lowest levels of child wellbeing in the city. This significant number of children living in deprivation not only represents social inequality but also a significant hindrance to the future prospects of the economy.

3.8The map below illustrates deprivation effecting children. It is mainly concentrated around Bolton town centre and in some areas bordering Salford. Wards with high levels of child poverty, like Halliwell, Great Lever, Crompton also have high levels of general deprivation and benefit claimants, as shown in figures 11 and 12. Halliwell, Central and Derby also show a correlation between high levels of ethnic minority population (as shown in figure 13) and child poverty, indicating that specific minority communities may have issues which are increasing the levels of child poverty.

Figure 12: Income deprivation affecting children

v5_child poverty_bolton

Source: IDACI 2007

3.9Tackling intergenerational worklessness in specific pockets of the borough is a major concern and a key focus for the borough going forward. Addressing such skills and worklessness challenges will be crucial if Bolton is to tackle the inequalities that exist within the borough and become better able to exploit the opportunities of growth when they arrive.

3.10The Derby area, which is adjacent to the town centre, has the largest population of ethnic minorities in Bolton, with 55.5% of the population categorised as non-White. The ward has the second highest actual number of ethnic residents at ward level across Greater Manchester with 7,296 residents. The second highest rate is in the nearby Central old ward, where the rate is 46.6%. There are also large concentrations of minorities in Burnden (29.7%) and Daubhill (26.9%).

3.11Bolton’s Indian population is mainly resident near the centre of Bolton town centre, with over a third of the population in Central and Derby ward made up of Indian residents. Daubhill (13.6%), Halliwell (9.7%), Burnden (8.9%) and Deane-cum-Heaton (5.2%) also have sizeable Indian communities. In total the Indian community are 6% of Bolton’s population. There is also a sizable Pakistani population, making up more than 5% of the population in Bolton. Wards with significant concentrations of Pakistani residents include Burnden (13.7%), Halliwell (10.3%), Derby (8.5%) and the Central ward (5.5%).

Figure 13: Ethnicity in Bolton


Source: Census 2007

3.12Bolton’s travel-to-work flows indicate that it has a relatively self contained labour market, with 36,000 of residents (32% of the total) commuting out of the borough, while 29,000 residents commute in (27% of total workers).

3.13A large number of Bolton’s commuters work in the conurbation core, with 17,100 residents commuting to Manchester, Salford and Trafford.

3.14The main inflows of workers come from Blackburn and Darwin (2,900), Bury (4,800) and Wigan (9,800), indicating Bolton’s importance as a source of employment for other local authorities in the north of the conurbation and neighbouring areas.

Figure 14 Travel to work flows for Bolton, 2008

NOTE: Only flows of 1% or more are shown


  • 8,900 from Bolton

  • To Bolton (under 1%)


  • 2,900 from Bolton

  • 9,800 to Bolton


  • 1,200 from Bolton

  • To Bolton (under 1%)

Source: ONS Annual Population survey

N.B. Only flows of 1% or more are shown. Figures have been rounded.


  • 1,300 from Bolton

  • 3,000 to Bolton


  • 1,600 from Bolton

  • To Bolton (under 1%)

Net exporter of labour to Bolton

Net importer of labour from Bolton


  • From Bolton (under 1%)

  • 2,900 to Bolton


  • 4,800 from Bolton

  • 5,300 to Bolton


  • 1,400 from Bolton

  • 1,500 to Bolton


  • From Bolton (under 1%)

  • 1,300 to Bolton


  • 6,800 from Bolton

  • 4,200 to Bolton


  • 36,000 residents commute out (32% of working residents)

  • 29,000 commute in (27% of working population)

  • Net Flow = -7k

3People Summary

  • The majority of out-commuters work in the conurbation core. But Bolton is also an important source of employment for other local authorities in the north of the conurbation and neighbouring areas.

  • The borough suffers from a low skills base that hampers its ability to move towards higher-value and more productive economic activities. Only a fifth (21.5%) of Bolton residents hold at least degree level-qualifications (NVQ4+), compared to just over a quarter (25.1%) in Greater Manchester as a whole, and well below the national average of 28.9%. Overall, Bolton’s workforce has more lower-level qualifications than the Greater Manchester average and slightly fewer with no qualifications.

  • Whilst Bolton’s employment (70.9%) and unemployment rates (8.0%) are better than Greater Manchester as a whole, they both lag national averages. The legacy of the industrial decline has contributed to high levels of worklessness, with over 35,000 people economically inactive in Bolton.

  • Employment Support Allowance (ESA) claims make up a significant component of this worklessness, with Bolton having a higher rate of claims (10.1%) than the Greater Manchester average (9.6%). Bolton’s Central Ward – which is just part of a concentration of claimants around Bolton town centre – has the third highest claimant rate of in Greater Manchester, at 20.3%.

  • The effects of persistent and intergenerational worklessness are pockets of acute deprivation that exist within the borough of Bolton, mainly clustered around the town centre and surrounding areas, often lying close to areas of much greater affluence and opportunity.


4.1Bolton’s key locational advantages include the M61 – linking the borough to wider markets in the North West (especially to Preston) and towards the conurbation core. Train links to Manchester city, Southport and Blackburn also provide a wider labour market, and easy access for commuters to jobs inside and out of Bolton.

4.2A key part of Bolton’s appeal is its key strategic links both into the city core and beyond Greater Manchester to Lancashire and Leeds. One of the most important future developments is the Trinity Interchange, a new integrated bus and rail hub, which will be positioned adjacent to the current Bolton railway station. This project beginning in 2012 will significantly increase connectivity into Manchester and beyond, improving Bolton’s residents’ access to employment opportunities.

Figure 15: Transport Infrastructure in Bolton

100924_bolton physical assets

Source: Ordinance Survey 2010

4.3Bolton represents a key strategic location for business investment in Greater Manchester. Industrial land in Bolton is more affordable than in the city core (typical price per ha – £450,000 cf. £540,000 in Manchester and £650,000 in Salford/Trafford). From the late 1990s until 2009, there has been a steady increase in industrial and warehouse land values reflecting the strong economic growth in the borough.

4.4Bolton’s town centre is ranked as the sixth best retail offer in the North West. This strong retail and leisure offer is not only a significant provider of employment but makes Bolton town centre of strategic significance for Greater Manchester, particularly the north of the city. There is also a new retail development planned for Central Street in Bolton town centre, which will create an 85,000 sq ft store, providing a boost to the already substantial retail offer provided by the town centre.

4.5There are a number of key recent and future developments Bolton, with a particular focus on the Bolton town centre as a key growth centre, as both Middlebrook (retail and office) and Wingates (manufacturing and distribution) to the west of Bolton have developed.

4.6The Greater Manchester Town Centres study highlights the unique offer of Bolton’s town centre as “characterized by its critical mass of education and knowledge based investment.” It also identifies the town centre’s retail offer, which includes the Market Hall redevelopment.

4.7There is a large amount of Grade A office space that is available in major developments like Merchants Place, Atria and 120 Bark Street. This has begun to be taken up, but still requires more occupants. According to the Town Centres study, Bolton has the strongest town centre office market in GM North. A substantial development to create a new FE college in Bolton, with an adjoining sixth form college as part of the Learning Campus with Bolton University has recently been completed. The university is also home to the Bolton One project, which will provide extra learning, diagnostic and treatment space, as well as a new town centre swimming pool.

4.8Other key projects include the proposed “Innovation Zone” in Bolton town centre, which will incorporate current Knowledge Campus Developments plus the now vacant college site on Manchester Road, and further expansion plans of the University. This is part of an ongoing drive to stimulate links between business and university research in an effort to grow Bolton’s knowledge economy.

4.9There are also some challenges for Bolton’s town centre, with the lack of a well-developed hotels restraining efforts to attract more visitors and businesses to the area. The office market also needs re-energising, with some businesses recently moving out of the town centre to more attractive employment sites in the borough, like Middlebrook.

4.10Due to the success of Middlebrook Park, Bolton’s out-of-town office market is now regarded as an established destination in its own right, such that Middlebrook is viewed by some agents as being the ‘North Manchester Market’, not just part of it.3

4.11Key opportunities for future development of employment sites in the borough of strategic importance include Horwich Loco and Cutacre. Buoyed by the success of Bolton’s out-of-town office market, though slightly set back from the M61, Horwich Loco provides an obvious area for expansion. The inclusion of B2, light industrial uses, will further improve the scheme’s attractiveness to a broad tenant market. Horwich Parkway railway station also connects the area to Preston, Blackpool, Bolton, Central Manchester and Manchester Airport.

4.12The Cutacre site straddles the Bolton–Salford boundary whilst also lying in close proximity to Wigan. Located adjacent to Junction 4 of the M61, and c.20–25 minutes north of Trafford Park, the site is strategically placed to appeal to both manufacturing and logistics operators. Cutacre possesses the inherent potential to become a key strategic site in the future. The land holding currently hosts mining operations but with UK Coal vacating in c.3 years, and intending to fully remediate the site prior to their exit. The site can therefore come forward for development in a relatively short timeframe, though remediation by UK Coal is essential if massive public sector intervention is to be avoided.

4.13Bolton is also able to provide an attractive lifestyle offer, lying in acres of spectacular countryside and open moorland. This is reflected in the number of ‘wealthy achievers’ residing in the borough, as shown in Figure 15, particularly to the north and west, in the more rural parts of Bolton. By contrast, the town of Bolton and its urban environs are characterised by large numbers of ‘hard pressed’ residents, experiencing the high levels of economic and social deprivation.

Figure 16: Bolton residents by ACORN classification


Source: CACI (2010) ACORN

4.14Bolton’s residential properties are significantly more affordable than the Greater Manchester average (£132,213 cf. £146,674 in GM), and as a result are marginally more affordable (with an affordability ratio of income to house price of 4.4, compared to 4.5 in GM). Whilst prices in Bolton fell sharply between 2007 and 2009 as across the rest of the UK, the drop was marginally smaller than the Greater Manchester average (5.4% cf. 5.8%).

4.15There is also a significant cultural offering in the borough, with the Albert Halls and the Octagon Theatre offering a variety of entertainment. There is also the annual Bolton Food and Drink Festival, which brings celebrity cookery demonstrations, a food market and street entertainment to Bolton Town Centre. The event brought in nearly 50,000 visitors in 2009 over three days, indicating it’s importance to tourism in Bolton.


5.1Unlike most parts of Greater Manchester, employment in Bolton actually rose in 2008, largely driven by a sharp rise within transport & communication employment. However the overall employment level remains below its recent peak in 2003, and employment fell subsequently over the course of the recession.

5.2With a modest pick up expected, GMFM forecasts that it will be 2015 at the earliest before Bolton’s employment returns to its pre-recession peak. Average GVA growth is also forecast to be modest at 2.3% per annum, below the GM average as the weaker labour market performance feeds through to output.

5.3Bolton's employment is expected to rise by almost 6,000 jobs over the decade ahead, which more than offsets the recessionary losses of 4,300. The outlook is driven primarily by the financial and business services sector, which is expected to expand by around 5,000 jobs.

Figure 17 Benchmarked employment (2000 = 100) in Bolton and Greater Manchester, 2000 - 2020

Source: GMFM 2010

5.4Manufacturing continues to act as a drag on employment growth (with the loss of over 2,500 jobs expected), though it is worth noting that the pace of decline is significantly slower than that experienced between 1998 and 2008.

5.5The forecast suggest a modest loss of jobs within the public sector during the decade ahead (1,300 jobs), which will also curtail overall employment growth.

5.6Migration forecasts are projected to moderate at around 500 net outflow per annum, higher than the last two years’ data. Larger outflows would reduce unemployment levels, but also have a further dampening on already weak demand and employment could therefore be lower again.

Figure 18 Unemployment in Bolton, 2000–20

Source: GMFM 2010

Figure 19 Key forecast indicators for Bolton and Greater Manchester, 2010 - 2020



CHANGE (2010 - 2020)























































Source: GMFM 2010


6.1Bolton is relatively more independent from the conurbation core, with relatively lower commuting flows into the Cities of Manchester and Salford, though still higher than to areas outside Greater Manchester.

6.2Bolton’s town centre benefits from a scale and diversity of functions that provide critical mass, which is complemented by continued strength in manufacturing and logistics activities, such that Bolton has developed into the key office market in the north of the conurbation.

6.3However, over the last decade, Bolton has seen minimal employment growth, and exclusively from the public sector, suggesting that economic restructuring is still underway, and that Bolton currently remains reliant upon the conurbation core for new employment opportunities.

6.4With its reliance on public sector employment, Bolton is vulnerable to cuts and the lack of a dynamic private sector needs to be addressed in order to compensate for the coming reduction in public sector employment. Bolton needs to continue to grow its knowledge-intensive businesses, particularly business and professional services, as manufacturing will continue to decline in employment terms in the future even if the sector sees a resurgence, as increasing productivity is essential to maintain global competitiveness.

6.5Bolton has some significant strengths that provide key opportunities for growth in the future. The high quality lifestyle offer in much of the borough makes it an attractive location to attract and retain skills, while a good quality transport links to employment sites both inside and outside of the borough provide strong connectivity for commuters. Bolton’s town centre, with its university and retail assets also provides a sound foundation for economic growth in the future.

6.6However, it remains important to address economic inequalities across the borough, in order to enable more of Bolton’s residents to share in the benefits of growth. Long-term worklessness remains an issue in a number of deprived areas of the borough.

6.7Skills are an important issue, both for reducing deprivation and worklessness and for stimulating business growth. In order to maximise the advantage of the size of its economy and resident population, Bolton needs to increase the proportion of its residents attaining higher-level skills, and create higher-value employment opportunities in the borough. The borough is particularly well placed to upskill its population, with Bolton University providing an important asset that can be built upon in the future.

1 The definition of para-state for these estimates has been adapted from one used by a CRESC working paper. As a result it should be treated as an estimated guide rather than a definitive statement of the size of the para-state sector. See John Buchanon, Julie Froud, Sukhdev Johal, Adam Leaver and Karel Williams, “Undisclosed and unsustainable: problems of the UK business model”, CRESC Working Paper no. 75, December 2009, pp 3, 29.

2 ESA figures used here include those still claiming the old Incapacity benefit.

3 Jones Lang LaSalle (2010) Identification and Market Demand-led Assessment of Large Employment Sites within Greater Manchester


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