About the data
In 2016, labour productivity in Somerset was £50,460. This is slightly higher than the average for the Heart of the South West (HotSW) LEP area of £49,690, but notably lower than the national average of £57,700. This disparity is often referred to as the ‘productivity gap’ and is largely accounted for by a much higher level of productivity in London and the South East of England.
As is the case nationally, and indeed internationally, productivity is broadly the same as it was 10 years ago. Whereas national productivity had grown consistently in the period leading up to the financial crisis of 2006/2007, it has essentially flat-lined following the subsequent economic downturn for reasons not yet fully understood (referred to as the ‘productivity puzzle’). This trend becomes less obvious the smaller the geography, where annual fluctuations are less easily smoothed out, and yet it is still visible. This is illustrated in the chart above comparing national productivity with that of Somerset and the HotSW area.
Productivity varies notably between districts within Somerset. In 2016 it was highest in West Somerset (£57,230) and lowest in Mendip (£46,990), a disparity of more than £10,000. For various reasons (including low job density and sectoral composition) West Somerset has historically been somewhat of an outlier, with far higher productivity than the rest of the county. In 2007, productivity in West Somerset was £69,410, roughly £10,000 higher than the national average and £20,000 higher than the average for Somerset. However, this gap has narrowed significantly in the last 10 years.
Source: Economic Model for Somerset and the Heart of the South West (HotSW) Local Enterprise Partnership, 2018