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Recruitment statistics: is Yorkshire the heart of the north?

With a population of over 5 million, Yorkshire is the largest county in the UK. As you may expect, this thriving county, which incorporates five busy cities is one of the largest contributors to the nation’s economy, accounting for around 8% of its GDP.

So, it’s clear that there’s no shortage of recruitment and employment opportunities within ‘God’s Own County’. But, what exactly does Yorkshire’s recruitment market look like – and how does it stack up against other areas in the UK?

Where does Yorkshire’s recruitment market rank?

To find out, we analysed the data of more than 8,300 UK recruitment agency branches to build a picture of Yorkshire’s recruitment sector.

Graphic - explains that there are more recruitment agencies in Leeds than in Liverpool and Edinburgh combined.

Yorkshire is home to around 7.5% of the nation’s agencies. Its largest city, Leeds, accounts for 2.8% of the total, making it the UK’s second largest recruitment hotspot, ahead of Bristol (2.7%) and Manchester (2.5%).

In fact, Leeds is eclipsed only by the City of London, which is home to 5.6% of UK recruitment agencies!

Where are Yorkshire’s Recruitment Agencies?

We analysed the data of 640 recruitment agencies within Yorkshire to get a clear view of where they are concentrated. Predictably, Leeds is the recruitment hub of Yorkshire, with 36% of its agencies based within the city.

There are a few surprises among the lesser-known areas. Despite having a population of a little over 5,000, the small town of Holmfirth is home to 4% of Yorkshire’s agencies, while just 2% are based in the considerably larger town of Keighley, which has a population of around 56,000 residents.  

This could be explained by Holmfirth’s active tourist industry, which accounts for a large part of the local economy. Conversely, Keighley once had a thriving wool and textiles industry and was home to several prominent manufacturers of weaving looms and textile machinery, although these have closed in recent years.

Where are the jobs concentrated within Yorkshire?

The largest number of jobs advertised are in Leeds, with an average of around 17,900 per month, significantly less than the average in Manchester, which sits at around 31,000.

So, where is the largest concentration of jobs in Yorkshire?

Table showing the number of jobs advertised per month within various areas of Yorkshire

Our data shows that unsurprisingly, the most populated cities, Leeds and Sheffield, have the highest numbers of jobs. Despite having the smallest populations on the list, Wakefield and Harrogate have more vacancies than some larger areas.

Specialised Recruitment in Yorkshire

Leeds has a large concentration of specialised recruitment agencies, which offer expertise in a small number of niche industries. The city’s most popular industry for specialist agencies is executive (6.9%), followed by IT (5.9%), construction (5.3%), accounting, and health, (both 5.1%).

In Sheffield, Yorkshire’s ‘second city’, the most popular industries for specialised recruitment are Education (9.3%) and Engineering (8.1%) and Accounting (7.4%).  

Here’s a look at the leading recruitment specialisms in each major area of Yorkshire:

Table showing the leading recruitment specialism within areas of Yorkshire.

Our data suggests that Leeds is Yorkshire’s hotspot for executive professionals, with ASDA Walmart, First Direct, Jet2.com and Sky Limited all headquartered in the city. Each of these major companies offer a wealth of opportunities for ambitious professionals.

Experienced engineers will find a good selection of opportunities in Sheffield; ARUP, DavyMarkham Ltd and Ancon Building Products all have bases in the city. York is also home to the leading rail and engineering companies such as East Coast and National Express East Coast.


When it comes to the sheer number of recruitment agencies, Leeds comes out tops, both in Yorkshire and the north, eclipsed only by the city of London.

However, with the average terraced and semi-detached property in Yorkshire costing around £140,000 and £174,000 respectively, the cost of getting on the property ladder is still considerably lower than in London, where a similar house would cost you around £495,000 or £580,000. This may explain why living and working in Yorkshire is such an attractive prospect for professionals who are reluctant to pay the premium of living in the capital.

So, is it fair to say that the heart of the North’s recruitment industry lies in Yorkshire? Having researched the web and reviewed our own data on the subject, we believe the answer is, yes. There’s certainly a compelling case for this.

Indeed, it could be argued that saturation, congestion and the high cost of living in London has helped to make Yorkshire a wellspring for recruitment and employment.

Do you live or work in the Yorkshire area? If so, do you agree with our findings? Why not join in the discussion and share your experiences in the comments below. We’d be very interested to read your insights. Don’t forget, we’ll be back soon with a new article focusing on another key recruitment location. If there’s a town, city or industry you’d like us to cover next, please let us know.


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