The second largest city in the UK, Birmingham is one of the nation's most important economic producers. Formerly a key centre of Industrial Revolution era manufacturing, retail is now a cornerstone of the local economy here. The recently completed Bullring Shopping Centre is the busiest in the country, while the House of Fraser is the largest department store outside London. In total, Birmingham generates about £2.2 billion in annual retail turnover, and it is estimated that the service sector accounts for nearly three-quarters of the economy.
But banking and accountancy is also a major source of employment in the region - both Lloyds and HSBC are headquartered here. Top employers include KPMG, Arthur Anderson, and Ernst & Young; and more than 100,000 employees are staffed in the city's financial sector. Birmingham is also home to the largest council in Europe, and the public sector provides jobs for nearly a third of all residents. Another 12% of jobs are still provided by the manufacturing industry, and Jaguar Land Rover is amongst the area's largest employers.
Unfortunately, the decline in manufacturing has had a lasting impact on the region. Birmingham's unemployment rate is significantly higher than the national average. But as the nation rebounds from recession, recruitment agencies have lately reported a gradual increase in job opportunities.