With a population of 319,800, Wirral is a borough in Northwest England's Merseyside County, near Liverpool. Bordered by the River Mersey, the Irish Sea, and the River Dee, Wirral's economy has long been supported by commercial waterways. Today, the aptly named £4.5 billion Wirral Waters Scheme is soon to bolster the local economy with infrastructural improvements and give a significant boost to the construction industry. Having recently solidified its transition from a production to a service-based economy, The Wirral's service industry has doubled its GVA (gross value added) since the mid-1990s. Today, the public sector employs more than a third of the workforce, and the Wirral Metropolitan Borough is amongst the region's largest employers. Another 23% work in distribution, retail, or hotel businesses and manufacturing continues to provide about 10% of local jobs. Wirral's recruitment agencies have also reported a substantial rise in recent opportunities in the financial sector. The Birkenhead area is a particularly fast-rising economic hub, and more than 12% of businesses based here report a minimum 20% growth since 2010 - even despite the recession. Wirral's unemployment was on par with the national average in 2012, while median weekly income was £498.10.