Mapping The Recession Infographic

17 August 2012 DueDil Team

Duedil research highlights the full impact of the 08/09 recession and shows UK towns and industries most at risk to economic uncertainty.

See the full infographic and our heatmap video that tell the story of the recession. An embed code for the infographic is at the bottom of this post.

In 2008 and 2009 the UK suffered through one of the longest and deepest recessions of any major economy. Hundreds of thousands of businesses closed and more than a million people lost their jobs as a result. We analysed 5m+ companies over a period of eleven years to better understand the effects of the recession on UK towns and industry sectors. Our data scientists developed a proprietary algorithm for inferring industry classifications for UK companies, examining registered company closures and formations.

As expected, there was a gradual growth in the number of businesses closing each year as the UK market expanded, until the recession hit. In late 2008, the number of companies that closed their doors exploded, bringing on seven consecutive months of negative growth in the size of the UK business population, which contracted by over 220,000 companies. The extreme levels of closures saw 2009 record the highest number of company closures ever, at over 492,000, compared with 312,000 in 2008, the second highest year.

Northern England felt the full brunt of the recession, with 10 of the 20 worst affected cities in the UK since 2008 located in the North West and Yorkshire regions, based on percentage drop in the number of active businesses. Leeds, Warrington, Bradford, Birmingham, Liverpool and Bristol all suffered heavy losses in the size of the business population.

Of the 20 best performers, Jersey, Durham and Guernsey were the only locations with high growth during the peak of the recession. The number of businesses registered in these localities has increased in every year of our study. Lincoln, Blackpool, Lerwick, Ilford and Middlesbrough were the best performing regions following the 08/09 recession, bouncing back strongly in 2011.


The slowdown in 2008 put the squeeze on many business sectors with the Manufacturing & Heavy Industry sector hit hardest, contracting in overall size by over 4% in 2009 after 8 consecutive years of growth. Slightly above them at the foot of the table was Electronics & Telecom, which shrunk by nearly 3%, and IT by 2%. Healthcare, Legal Services and Education & Public Services have fared the best with sustained, if slower growth throughout. All industries recovered in 2010, aside from Human Resources which shrunk by a whopping 7.5%, suggesting a latent exposure to the effects of the recession and that continuing high unemployment numbers are placing enormous pressure on the industry.
Our analysis found a distinct relation between the health of the entire UK market and that of the Construction & Real Estate and Manufacturing & Heavy Industry sectors, two of the three largest sectors in the UK and the most sensitive to economic shocks.

So far, the Healthcare sector has witnessed the most growth in the first decade of this century, growing in size by nearly 250% since 2000, followed by Legal Services (213%) and Education & Public Services (136%).

The question is, will the UK enjoy the growth it experienced during the 90s and early 00s?

All regions in the UK saw growth in the number of companies in 2011, with the business community growing by a total of over 180,000 last year. This was double the growth seen in 2010 and a far cry from 2009, when there was a net loss of over 127,000 businesses. The total number of active businesses in the UK in the last ten years has increased by 56.9% to over 2.94 million.

However the return to recession in 2012 and the recent prediction of zero economic growth this year by the Bank of England means businesses still face a turbulent time ahead, and one certainty is that the slump brought on by the global financial crisis will continue to reverberate for some time to come.

How we generated this data

We analysed company dissolutions over a period of eleven years. To begin dissolution proceedings a company, or the registrar, will issue a striking-off application. Three months later a final dissolution notice will be issued at which point the company is struck off the register at Companies House. When issued, we took the dissolution date of the company to be that when the final dissolution notice was issued.

Industry data is partially derived from self-reported industry classification and relies on coverage in that industry. As sic codes often times are ambiguous, or incomplete, we used our own proprietary algorithm for inferring multi-industry classifications for UK companies, which takes into account more dynamic data sources such as company websites, among others, and allowed us to generate multi-industry classifications for 2 million+ UK companies. Industry size is relative to number of companies in that industry

Companies House introduced a tighter compliance regime in 2009, which may have accounted for some of the rise in company closures that year. The spike in dissolutions in May 2009 can be partly attributed to a mass striking off of limited companies registered by an employment contractor. Figures published are rounded.

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