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North West had the lowest life expectancy in England in 2009 to 2011

The 2013 ONS regional characteristics analysis for the North West

The latest ONS Region and Country Profiles analysis takes a look at the regional characteristics of the nine regions within England and countries of the UK, exploring aspects such as population, age, employment and house prices. The profile of the North West shows it to have the third largest population and the second highest population density. The North West contributed 9% to the UK’s economic output. House prices are among the lowest in England.

The North West makes up 11% of the total UK population

The North West is the third largest English region in population terms, with 7.1 million people at mid-2012, 11% of the total UK population. The population increased by 0.4% between mid-2011 and mid-2012, compared with an increase of 0.7% for the UK over the same period. The region had the second highest population density in the UK (502 people per square kilometres (sq km)) in 2012.

The region covers 6% of the total area of the UK (14,100 sq km). It has two large built-up areas, Manchester and Liverpool, and the second highest proportion of its population living in urban areas (89.4%) compared with 82.4% for England in 2011. In contrast, it also has the second largest area of National Parks (including the whole of the Lake District and parts of the Yorkshire Dales and Peak District) in England.

The North West had one of the highest percentages of children in workless households

The proportion of children living in workless households in the North West in Q2 2013 was 17.8%. This was one of the highest regions, compared with 13.6% for England and 18.7% in the North East.

Life expectancy at birth in the North West in 2009 to 2011 was 77.4 years for males, the lowest in England and compared with 78.9 years for England. It was 81.5 years for females, the joint lowest in England with the North East and compared with 82.9 years for England. The median age in mid-2012 for residents in the North West was 40.2 years, compared with 39.7 years for the UK.

The region produced 9% of the UK’s economic output

The North West region contributed 9% of the UK’s economic output (gross value added or GVA) in 2011 and the unemployment rate in Q2 2013 was 8.2%, slightly above the UK figure of 7.8%. The rate at which businesses in the region closed down in 2011 was 10.7%, the highest of all English regions and countries of the UK, compared with the UK rate of 9.8%.

The employment rate in the region stood at 69.1% in Q2 2013, slightly below the UK rate of 71.5%. The percentage of the region’s population aged 16 to 64 having no qualifications in 2012 was 11.1%, above the UK average of 9.9%.

In April 2012, median gross weekly earnings for full-time adult employees in the North West were £473, lower than the UK median of £506. In 2011, gross disposable household income (GDHI) of North West residents was £14,500 per head, compared with £16,000 for the UK. The average house price in the North West in June 2013 was £161,000, the second lowest of all the English regions, compared with £242,000 for the UK and £145,000 for the North East.

Where can I find out more about ONS regional statistics?

These statistics were analysed by the Sub-national Reporting team at the ONS using data from a range of official statistics. If you’d like to find out more about the latest regional statistics, please see our Notes on Sources, latest tables (260.5 Kb Excel sheet) and interactive mapping and charting tool or visit our Directory of Tables page. If you have any comments or suggestions, we’d like to hear them! Please email us at

Categories: People and Places, Communities, Neighbourhoods and Communities, Business and Energy, Economy, Labour Market, Housing and Households, Housing Market, Population
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