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Employment by sector and industry

The information in this section comes from the Business Register and Employment Survey (BRES) 2017 [1], which is the official source of employee and employment estimates by detailed geography and industry. The survey collects employment information from UK businesses across each site that they operate. Due to the survey’s large sample size (approximately 85,000 businesses), BRES is able to produce good quality estimates for detailed breakdowns by industry and geography. The employment data in BRES represents the number of employees added to the number of working owners (for example, sole proprietors and partners). However, BRES does not cover very small businesses that are not VAT or Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) registered. These businesses account for only a small part of the overall economy, but it accounts for the difference between the BRES UK estimate of employment and the estimate from the ONS (Office for National Statistics) workforce jobs series. For total employment figures, other ONS sources such as workforce jobs (regional) and the Annual Population Survey (sub-regional) can provide fuller coverage of total employment, albeit with a less detailed industrial breakdown.

Note: The figures include businesses registered for PAYE but not for VAT, so are not continuous with BRES datasets for years prior to 2015. Also please noted that the current figures include farm agriculture which was excluded in previous years. The revised figures for 2016 and 2015 are included in this update.

Key points:

  • In Herefordshire, there were an estimated total of 81,000 employees in 2017, up 3% from 2016 (78,500) and up 4% from 2015 (78,000).
  • In Herefordshire, just under two thirds of employees (65%) work full time, three percentage points less than for the West Midlands and in England as a whole. In line with the picture regionally and nationally, the proportion of employees working part time was higher in the public sector than the private sector (48% compared to 33%) in Herefordshire.
  • The industries employ the largest numbers of people in Herefordshire were ‘health’ (12,500 employees), ‘manufacturing’ (11,500) and ‘retail' (8,000). 40% of employees in the county fall into these categories (Figure 1); the proportion of employment in all of these industries was higher in Herefordshire than in both the West Midlands region and England.
  • Agriculture, forestry & fishing (including farm agriculture) (6,500), Accommodation and food services (6,500 and Education (6,000) also employed large numbers of people in Herefordshire and account for 23% of total employment.
  • Herefordshire employs a higher proportion of people in manufacturing than nationally; six percentage points higher in the county than in England as a whole. Almost half of manufacturing in Herefordshire is classed as low technology; this includes food and beverages which is a historically strong sector within the county. 
  • In contrast, there was a clear under representation of ‘financial and insurance’, ‘professional, scientific and technical’, ‘transport & storage ‘ and ‘business administration & support services’ industries in Herefordshire compared to England.

Figure 1: Proportion of employees by industry in 2017 across Herefordshire, West Midlands and England.

Chart showing employees by industry in Herefordshire 2017.

Source: Business Register and Employment Survey 2017

Job density

Job density is the number of jobs in an area relative to the size of the working age population [2] and is a measure of availability of employment for residents of an area. The total number of jobs is a workplace measure derived from a number of sources:

-              employees (from the Business Register and Employment Survey),

-              self-employment jobs (from the Annual Population Survey)

-              government-supported trainees (from DfES and DWP) and

-              HM Forces (from MoD).

In 2016 the job density was 0.84; i.e. for every 100 people of working age there were 84 jobs in the local area (Figure 2). This was the same as for England (0.84) and the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership (0.82) but higher than that of the West Midlands region (0.78).

Figure 2: Annual job densities 2000 to 2016.

Chart showing annual job density in Herefordshire compared to the Marches, the West Midlands and England 2000 to 2016.

Source: ONS Crown Copyright

Public sector employment

The Office for National Statistics also produce estimates of public sector and private sector employment based on results from BRES.  Unlike the other statistics presented here the public and private sectors in this dataset are defined on the basis of the legal status [3] of the employer rather than their Standard Industrial Classification (SIC).

According to this measure, 11,000 (14%) of all employees are employed in the public sector in Herefordshire compared to 16% across England.  However if the public sector is defined on the basis of SIC codes, including ‘public administration and defence; compulsory social security’, ‘education’ and ‘human health and social work’ then it accounts for a much greater proportion – 24% in Herefordshire (26% across England).  Neither definition properly captures the size of the public sector.  Using the legal definition excludes some public services that are commissioned in the private sector, whereas defining by industrial classification includes some services such as social care that are funded by the private sector.

It is also possible to look at the employment rate of residents in the public sector (rather than workplace employment as above) by using results from the Annual Population Survey. [4]  According to this, 15% of the total employees in Herefordshire works in the public sector compared to 21% across England. 

[1] Business Register and Employment Survey 2017:

[2] Defined here as all people aged 16-64.

[3] The private sector is defined as: company, sole proprietor, partnership and non-profit body or mutual association. Public sector employees are those in: public corporations/ nationalised bodies, central government and local authority.

[4] In this case the public sector is self-defined by the respondent.  Respondents tend to over report employment in the public sector, but this over-reporting is likely to be of similar magnitude between different areas.