Once responsible for producing more than half the boots and shoes worn in Great Britain, Northampton has long enjoyed a thriving economy, and is amongst the wealthiest towns in the Midlands. Filled with historic buildings and large estates, the town's scenic facade is a reflection of its long-running success and proof of its effective transition to a modern service economy following the widespread manufacturing decline in the UK since the 1990s. Fast growing, Northampton is soon to expand its borders and increase its workforce by nearly a third before 2018, while the past two decades have already witnessed the city generate 18,000 new jobs.
Today, transport and distribution support about 27,000 employees, thanks to leading local employers including Levi Strauss, Tesco and Coca-Cola. Employment in the finance and IT sector, Northampton's largest economic sector, is dominated by Barclays, Premium Search, and Nationwide Building Society. In total, the industry employs 28% of the workforce. With a staff of about 30,000, the public sector is the second largest source of job opportunities. Positions offered by the University of Northampton, the largest public sector employer, frequently show up in the listings of local recruitment agencies. In 2012, weekly median income in Northampton was £462.5, while unemployment hovered at about 3.8%, on par with the national average.