Oxford’s Economic Profile

Oxford is not only one of the UK’s fastest growing cities over the last decade, it is a global success story, competing among the top technology clusters in the world. The city is home to a diverse industrial base with 4,935 businesses providing 144,000 jobs.

The city is home to two world-class universities, and one of the best qualified populations in the country with the highest concentration of knowledge workers. Oxford has a diversified economy, and as a focal point for higher education, research and science, is at the centre of one of the top five technology ecosystems in the world, excelling in fields such as biotech, data science, quantum technology and robotics. Technology spin-outs are fueling significant growth in the city and wider region.

Latest figures show that Oxford contributed almost £7bn to the national economy and generated £1.15bn in income tax, £226m more than ten years earlier.

Over the last decade, the city has experienced some of the highest growth rates in private sector jobs of any city. Unemployment has been under 2% for most of the past decade. However, the COVID Pandemic has seen that increase to 4.6% and highlighted many businesses’ reliance on city centre workers and tourists.  The City Council is preparing a new Economic Development Strategy, and City Centre Vision & Action Plan to build on its many strengths and support economic recovery and resilience post-COVID. This work underpins delivery of the Oxfordshire Industrial Strategy.

The city is home to diverse international enterprises including BMW Mini, Oxford University Press, Unipart, Centrica, Nielsen and TripAdvisor among numerous others. Oxford’s economy is broad-based, structurally resilient and provides one-third of the county’s jobs. It is estimated that Oxford exports £12,830 per job with goods accounting for £12,230 per job. The city also attracts significant inward investment (FDI), typically attracting a scale of new investment projects in line with much larger cities. Oxford is the tourism gateway to the rest of Oxfordshire, attracting approximately 7.8 million daytime and overnight visitors annually and generating £988m of spend locally. In terms of overseas visitors to the UK, Oxford is the seventh most visited city for overnight visits.

Along with all of these successes, Oxford faces a need to recover from the recession and navigate the structural challenges accelerated by the Pandemic. It also faces growth-related challenges, not least ensuring growth in the supply of suitable labour, housing and infrastructure continues to keep pace with demand over the long-term whilst tackling inequalities, the climate emergency, retaining the city’s unique heritage and ensuring a high quality environment. The Oxfordshire Growth Board is working with the Government and a range of partners to deliver around £500m of investment into infrastructure, housing and employment space delivery that will support long-term sustainable growth in Oxfordshire.