chapter  3
25 Pages

Small firm creation, innovation and growth and the urban-rural shift

THEURBAN-RURALEMPLOYMENTSHIFf Eversincethe1960s,themostpc,werfullocationaltrendinthe distributionofemploymentandeconomicactivityintheUnited Kingdomhasbeenashiftoffirms,outputandjobsfromthe conurbationsandbigcitiestosmallertownsandruralareas(Keeble, 1976;1980;1984:FothergillandGudgjn,1982:Fothergilletal., 1985:Townsend,1993).Table3.1,aggregatingfiguresprovidedby Townsend,revealsthatnotwithstandingtheNorth-Southdifferences inregionaleconomicperformancewhichattractedsomuchattention duringthe1980s,theperiodsince1981hasbeenjustasmuch characterisedbyacontinuingandmajorurban-ruralshiftofemploymentaswasthe1970s,whenthephenomenonwas·firstrecognised. ThoughthecategoriesusedinTable3.1,derivedfromaclassification oftheOfficeforPopulationCensusesandSurveys,arebynomeans ideal,theynonethelessshowclearlythatitwastheruralandlessurbanisedareasofBritainwhichrecordedthefastestgrowthof employment-andtheonlygrowthofmanufacturingemploymentduringthisperiod,whereasthemajorcitiesandlargetownsexperienceddeclineoronlyveryslowgrowth.Aswiththe1970s(Fothergill etal.,1985),thereisastrikingandconsistentgradientinemployment performancefromthemosturbanised,intermsofphysicalcongestionandpopulationdensity,tothemostruralareasofBritain.And Townsendshowsthatthisgradientisequallyevidentinbothnorthern andsouthernBritain.