The fifth largest metropolitan district in the UK, Bradford has a population of more than 200,000 and is growing at twice the national average. Its economy is worth an estimated £7.6 billion annually, making it the 2nd largest employment region in Leeds. The district was formerly dominated by the wool industry, which has since declined dramatically, but large manufacturing companies still provide the bulk of job opportunities and staff about one-fifth of local employees. In fact, the manufacturing sector is the 3rd largest in the UK, and top employers include Denso Marston, CIBA Chemicals, and Bailey Offsite.
Tourism also plays an important economic role, generating £400 million annually and providing 10,000 jobs. Retail is another significant sector, currently employing 8000, and due to add about 3000 new jobs with the introduction of the new £350 million Westfield Bradford Shopping Centre. Though average weekly earnings fall slightly below the national average of £508, unemployment in Bradford is well below the UK average.
There has been a recent boom of entrepreneurial activity in Bradford, and today about 12% of all local businesses are listed as start-ups. As the population expands and new businesses continue to crop up, recruitment agencies project that the area will add 50,000 new jobs in the coming decade, with the fastest growth occurring in West Yorkshire.