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Towns analysis: Understanding towns in England and Wales

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has published its first in a series of articles providing new data and analysis on towns in England and Wales. The analysis includes 1,186 urban areas covering more than half (56%) of the population in England and Wales.

The analysis looks at the differing features of towns of different sizes as well as the differences between residential towns (where people tend to commute to somewhere else) and working towns. The main findings include:

  • The average employment rate of residents in towns in 2017 was slightly higher (75.7%) than the average for England and Wales overall (74.9%), with the rate highest for small towns (77.3%) and lowest for large towns (74.3%).
  • Within England, deprivation levels in towns was slightly lower than in non-town areas with 28% of the town population living in the 30% most deprived English neighbourhoods compared with 33% of non-town residents.
  • Between 2009 and 2017, 49% of towns had employment growth above the average growth for England and Wales but only 30% of towns had population growth above the England and Wales average.
  • Employment declined between 2009 and 2017 in 26% of towns, most commonly amongst residential towns with higher levels of income deprivation