Nottingham could get an economic boom in 2016 after unemployment in the city fell to a seven-year low.
Around 13,000 people are now out of work – or 8.4 per cent of the population – according to the latest Government figures.
It is the first time since the 2008 recession that joblessness in the city has dropped below nine per cent.
And things are also looking up in the county, where 5.3 per cent or 21,000 people are out of work – a six-year low point.
With Nottingham businesses creating jobs faster than anywhere else in the UK in 2015, business leaders say there’s a sunny economic forecast for Notts next year.
But experts are also cautioning the recovery is fragile and the area is yet to reach its full potential.
The region has been at the front of the pack
Chris Hobson, director of policy at the East Midlands Chamber, said: “It’s down to the hard work of local businesses, since the recession. The East Midlands and Nottinghamshire have been a significant driver of economic growth and job creation over the past few years.
“The region has been at the front of the pack in creating jobs, growing exports and, through innovation, developing new businesses, products and processes.”
Several big businesses including Now Pensions have arrived in Notts in the past 12 months, while the city council has grown jobs by encouraging apprenticeships and launching schemes including a jobs hub in Bulwell.
Video: Ben Rose-Walton talks about being an apprentice in Nottingham with Aspire, Achieve, Advance, Castle Gate
But experts caution growth locally and nationally could be fragile.
Chris Lawton, a research fellow at Nottingham Business School, has been working on detailed studies of what kinds of jobs and workers the city is creating.
Around 23 per cent of people in Nottingham are in what are classed as lower-paid service jobs, such as in call centres and recruitment.
In similar cities such as Leeds, the rate of people in these jobs is only around 12 per cent, and more workers are in higher-paid service roles such financial services.
There needs to be a long-term structural change
Mr Lawton said: “It’s a long-term objective – that demand for higher-paid jobs will only come in time.
“There needs to be a long-term structural change that no one thing is going to achieve.”
He added to attract more high-paying employers the city also needs to look at selling itself better.
Nottingham is bursting with what he describes as ‘assets’ – Trent Bridge, a vibrant cultural and sporting scene, a music industry and an admirable transport network.
He added: “There’s a perception among some employers that Nottingham has failed to ‘sell’ or communicate those assets to attract investment – that might need to be the job of a new organisation or existing organisations working together.”
Graphic: The red line shows how Nottingham’s unemployment rate has fallen over time and is now lower than in cities such as Liverpool (light blue) Sheffield (brown) and Newcastle (yellow)
Mr Hobson also agrees success is likely – bur far from certain – for Nottingham next year.
“We also have uncertainties around things like the EU referendum and the introduction of a new National Living Wage,” he added.
“We can’t yet fully appreciate what impact these might have on business.”
However, several huge development projects which were completed in 2015 are expected to bring growth in 2016, while other big schemes are being built around the city and county next year.
“The newly-dualled A453 and the extensions to the tram are both welcome infrastructure schemes which have the potential to unlock huge potential economic benefits for Nottingham and the wider area,” added Mr Hobson.
“They are already having a positive impact and we expect this to continue through 2016.”
Picture: The Victoria Centre redevelopment is also seen as key economic point for Notts in 2016
Nottingham will be hoping that more businesses follow the lead of NOW Pensions, who were sufficiently tempted by the city to set up a second UK branch in Nottingham.
The Danish pensions company officially opened the city centre branch in November on Park Row.
At the time, leader of Nottingham City Council Councillor Jon Collins said: “Working closely with the company, we are able to ensure that the benefit of this new investment will be felt by local people with new jobs and opportunities on offer now and in the future.”
Chris Lawton added: “There’s a balance of opportunities and risks for 2016.”The wider economic climate has several risks – so a recent national survey suggests businesses are getting concerned about trade, and there’s a possibility recovery will flatten off.”