Second city, second class – the data

So folk in my network keep tweeting this article from The Economist which is about Birmingham’s economic woes. Us Brummies love to agonise about our city’s failings so it’s had wide retweetage with one person (I won’t link) even laboriously tweeting sections from it.

I immediately took a dislike to the article due to the way the journalist starts by gazing of the train window and using the dereliction they witness to shape the reader’s view of the city. Of course one can’t blame the journalist for that; the fault is journalism itself. But that’s for another post.

Anyway, I love an excuse to go find the evidence on which claims about our great city are made so I went hunting for the documents and spreadsheets that are the basis for the article’s claims.

As you might expect from The Economist, almost every claim made in the article can be backed up (though I’m pleased that I could pull them up on the nerdy train facts). I’ve tried to confine myself to instances where statistics are cited.

So here’s the evidence for The Economist article in case you ever need it (as embedded google doc below or on a separate page).

I hope you find this useful. When I start on these things I can’t help but carry on digging for the facts. I guess now the question is, given the City is in a relatively poor state, what are we going to do about it?


5 thoughts on “Second city, second class – the data

  1. So you think it’s shit, but you’re confirming that the article is essentially correct. It’s the GVA since 1998 figure I find most troubling. It roughly mirrors the shift from private sector employment to public sector employment no? Personally I feel the city has to get a lot more Entrepreneurial to turn the situation around, and start looking outward. We need to be dragging in work from London and the rest of the world. That means us going out there, because they are *not* going to come to us.

  2. Sorry. To be clear (which I realise I’m not being above) I’m saying I thought it was shit but now, after reading the data, realise it isn’t at all. It’s well researched and rightly provocative. The tendency for journalists to use decaying urban landscape as metaphor for declining economies is annoying but that aside it tells us some uncomfortable truths.

  3. Fair enough. I know handwringing about Birmingham’s performance against other cities is a local pastime, but I’m starting to think we’re just not trying hard enough. To be more provocative: If you are ambitious and you do want to make things happen on a national or global scale, there’s a rather large city you can move to that’s only 72 minutes away. Maybe that explains why this city is full of people who’re not really that bothered. Or to flog the dead horse ‘people who don’t like boasting’.

  4. The above website, hosted at the NTCC in Quinton (junction 3 M5) was at the time managed by TiS (Serco) for the Highways Agency. It is now managed by Thales (pronounced Tar Less – they are French!) and Mouchel (they sound French) but this is beside the point. My last project in the UK was designing and implementing this site as team leader for the contractor – Appius. We were (and they are still) a small digital agency in Bournemouth and I remember at one of the bid meetings being questioned over our location – someone at Serco or in the government sponsor felt it odd that we came from the south coast. I distinctly remember them saying “shouldn’t you be based in London or Manchester or something?” At no point did anyone consider Birmingham – mighty strange considering the NTCC’s location and all our Travel & Subsistence payments etc.

  5. I moved here from paris 13 years ago and it steadily got worse. I work in film and tv and there is no hope in this city. Fantastic festival such as flatpack struggles. It is very provincial and nothing much of note happens. I am looking to take my skills somewhere else. It s a shame but as i feel; shit city, great peoPle

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