The city region of Manchester is an agglomeration covering some 117km² in the northwest of England, with a particularly high concentration of people, firms and employment in the city centre. Industry sectors such as business services, IT, digital and biomedical sciences are key to economic growth in Greater Manchester in terms of new investment and job creation. Manchester is the economic powerhouse of the northwest, sustained by its world-class universities, a knowledge-based economy, a thriving city centre, a skilled workforce, and Manchester International Airport.
The city, along with the other southern districts in Greater Manchester, generated economic activity worth £30.89 billion in 2009. As a regional centre, the city attracts above-average rates of new business start-ups, a diverse employment structure and a competitive labour market. Historically, Manchester played a significant role in the industrial revolution in the 18th century and much of its character is derived from buildings from that era.
As industry began to decline, the city’s population fell from 703,100 in 1951 to its lowest in over 100 years in 1999 at 416,400. Since the turn of the century, however, the population has been rising again, reaching more than 503,000 according to the 2011 Census estimates. Whilst the economy has been restructured and new jobs are being created, the city is still tackling the social, physical and environmental legacy of years of economic decline. Manchester is the fourth most deprived district in the country.