Opportunity knocks?

City leaders and policymakers up and down the country are increasingly prioritising inclusive growth strategies to ensure that economic prosperity benefits all segments of the population. As engines of growth, but also as locations of the greatest levels of poverty, cities play an essential role in creating inclusive economies.

The challenges involved differ widely from city to city, however, and this report looks at the geography of low-skilled jobs and people, analysing how and why economic outcomes vary between places as well as unpacking the mechanisms through which low-skilled jobs are created.


Policies that support the growth of cities do not just benefit high-skilled people, they support low-skilled people too. Low-skilled people living in stronger economies are less likely to be unemployed than elsewhere and have access to many more job opportunities, both in low-skilled and higher-skilled occupations.

There cannot be inclusive growth without economic growth. The ability of cities to attract high-skilled exporting jobs has an impact on the overall level of economic growth in these places. But growth in these jobs and businesses has indirectly benefited low-skilled people too. Growth in high-skilled exporting jobs brings money into the local economy creating demand for jobs in local services occupations such as leisure and retail, generating opportunities for low-skilled people. The variety of jobs stronger economies can offer means that low-skilled people not only have access to more job opportunities but better opportunities too.

Creating growth is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for inclusive growth. One of the challenges associated with strong city economies is that success comes with increased pressures on the housing market. As a result, low-skilled people risk being priced out of strong economies, making it more difficult for them to access the many job opportunities these cities generate.

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