The prosperity basket of indicators in our Vibrant Economy Index, considers the economic wealth of an area and its ability to provide jobs.
This basket includes GVA (gross value added) measures, average workplace earnings, employment in knowledge-driven sectors, the number of large and small businesses in an area and foreign investment.
The prosperity map of Wales (see map 1) shows two geographic hot-spots: one in the north around Flintshire and Wrexham; the second in a corridor in the south reaching from Newport and Torfaen in the east to Neath Port Talbot in the west. On prosperity indicators, Flintshire is the highest ranked area in Wales, with Cardiff and Newport ranking second and third respectively. Traditional economic centres like these dominate on this basket of measures, reflecting a wider pattern across the UK where cities and larger towns are the domain of prosperity.
Map 1 - How areas of Wales perform against the Vibrant Economy Index prosperity indicators
The connectivity of strong performers in Wales with prosperous cities such as Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Bristol and London – and their geographic proximity to many of these cities – plays an important role in supporting an economy that creates wealth and provides employment opportunities. Given that prosperity invariably extends across a wider city region or metropolitan sub-region, enhancing these connections will be an important factor in driving future economic growth.
At the other end of the scale, the least prosperous areas fall into two categories: rural, coastal economies and pockets in the north and south where prosperity is low despite the success of neighbouring areas. For the latter, the challenges around prosperity are often magnified by the scale of the gap between them and their more prosperous neighbours.
These findings underline the importance of strong, sustainable and productive economic growth in driving prosperity and highlight the need for enhancing connectivity between places within Wales and across the border to England. However, focusing purely on prosperity and economic growth is not enough. Creating truly vibrant economies requires consideration of other factors too.