On the River Tees, Middlesbrough is a borough in Northeast England's North Yorkshire County with a population of 138,900. The once-massive steel and iron industry here earned Middlesbrough the nickname Ironopolis, but substantial decline in the industry since the 1990s has forced the region to transition to a modern service economy, supported by light industry and distribution. Today, the public sector in Middlesbrough is one of the proportionately largest in the UK, and supports more than 42% of all local employees. The Middlesbrough Borough Council alone employs 12,000.
Recent growth in the retail sector, bolstered by local regeneration projects, has expanded the sector's workforce to about 20,000; and recruitment agencies are now experiencing an increased demand for qualified staff. Middlesbrough's relatively large working class - with 23% working in industrial or elementary occupations and 11% holding skilled trade jobs - accounts for a substantially larger portion of the workforce than the 13% of employees working in professional occupations. A slowly expanding finance and IT sector employs a further 15% of workers here, while hotels, restaurants, and distribution provide about a fifth of all jobs.
In 2012, unemployment was a significant problem for Middlesbrough, and more than 8% were out of work. But as the UK battles through the recent recession, employment opportunities have been increasing in the region.