According to City Metric, the first thing to note: that Liverpool result wasn’t a fluke. There’s a huge bounce into 2009, which suggests that the 2008 European Capital of Culture award may have been a big help to the city. But while it falls back as the crash beds in and austerity bites, it’s growing strongly again from 2020 and ends the chart in fourth place. By 2016, its economy had grown by more than a quarter.
What of the rest? It won’t surprise anyone to see that London is in the first place, or that Bristol – the only other southern English city listed – is running it close. Both economies have expanded fairly steadily (although I’d love to know what happened in Bristol in 2014). The great recession barely touched them, and the western city has probably benefited, too, from people and jobs getting priced out of the capital, McDonald’s Customers Survey Guide.
As to the other national capitals, Edinburgh had a wobble in 2009-10 but bounced back fairly strongly. With Cardiff, the story is more interesting. Viewed in terms of its progress since 1998, its economy is one of Britain’s star performers. Starting the clock later, though, and we can see it had a tough recession, and its economy took several years to get back to its 2007 value.
Britain’s largest cities outside London, Manchester, and Birmingham, are in the middle of the pack. The former has expanded fairly consistently, if unimpressively; the latter had a harder crash but a stronger rebound. Both those things probably fit with what we already knew about them. It’s at the bottom of the league table that the other surprise lies: the cities of Yorkshire are in trouble.
It’s no shock that Sheffield should be pulling up the rear – it’s consistently the most economically troubled of Britain’s major cities, struggling not just with industrial decline but also poor infrastructure and physical isolation.