Top 10 UK cities for jobs

The job market continues to grow in the UK after the lull of the pandemic. The Office for National Statistics data shows that job openings rose to record levels in 2022. As of March 2022, there are now 1,288,000 job opportunities. This is up by 492,400 from the pre-pandemic period of January to March 2020.

Although there has been a large switch to remote working there are still a high number of location-based jobs. Using Indeed jobs data, as compiled by we are able to discover the best UK cities and towns for job opportunities. Surprisingly the capital city of London was not one of the top cities for job seekers.

This article will look at why that is. It will also look at which towns and cities in the UK have the most relative job opportunities. Furthermore, data will also show the top cities and towns for employment opportunities by job sector.

Which UK cities and towns meet the top 10 ranking for career opportunities?

RankCityCountyPopulationJob listings on IndeedListings per 100,000 people
2ManchesterGreater Manchester555,74113,2992,393
3BristolCity of Bristol465,86611,0412,370
7Newcastle upon TyneTyne and Wear306,8244,1801,362
9EdinburghCity of Edinburgh527,6206,4721,227

Although Reading had the second smallest population in the top 10, it was shown to have more jobs per 100,000 people than anywhere else. There are a total of 3,945 jobs listed on Indeed Jobs in Reading. This means, there are 2,460 jobs per 100,000 people. A further breakdown shows that for every fortieth person in Reading, there is a job opening.

However, it also has to be said that the unemployment rate is 4.4% which is slightly higher than the national average of 3.8%. This may indicate that although there are job opportunities aplenty, Redingensians may find a harder time gaining employment in Reading than average. Perhaps this is because of the town’s geography.

Reading is neighboured by large population towns and cities such as Oxford and London. You can travel from central London or Oxford to Reading in under 25 minutes by train. It is likely that job seekers from other cities and towns find jobs in Reading at a higher rate than normal. Reading also has a number of industry-specific jobs meaning certain jobs may only be open to people who have received higher education in those fields.

Why isn’t London one of the best cities for jobs?

Not only is London not one of the top 10 best cities for job seekers, but it also does not even make the top 15 rankings. A secondary list by recruitment website Glassdoor does not place the capital city in their top 25 rankings. So, why is this?

As of today, Indeed have 142,680 opportunities available for job seekers in the city. This is an incredible amount of jobs equating to nearly as much as the entire population of Reading. However, as estimates for the population of London is around 9.5 million, those opportunities are greatly diluted.

London is indeed a world hot spot for jobs. Many people will have to relocate to the capital if they want to reach the pinnacle of their careers. This is because most major companies such as Unilever, and BHP have headquarters in the city. These companies have helped push the average salary in London to £39,716. Far above the UK average salary of £31,285, as of data by Statista. However, as a number of leading international companies are based in London, competition is fierce with many commuting to, or traveling to the city, to claim the best jobs.

The pool of potential workers is far greater than its residents. It is also one of the worst cities in terms of cost of living. For example, the relative regional consumer price level is 7% above average. Also according to the House Price Index, a property in the city of London costs on average £839,698. This is far higher than the English and UK average. Expensive monthly rent prices also mean affordable housing is hard to find. Therefore although the city has high salaries and employment opportunities, it is drowned out by its cost of living and global career competition.

Which other UK locations are good for employment?

Manchester was second on the list with 13,299 vacancies. This translated to 2,393 jobs per 100,00 people. Manchester has added to its manufacturing infrastructure by becoming a hub for tech and creative businesses. For example, Lad Bible which is based in Manchester has become the third-largest media property for global reach in the UK. The cost of living is also substantially cheaper in Manchester than in the capital.

Bristol came in at third place. It had 11,041 job listings on Indeed and had 2,370 listings per 100,000 people, which was just below Manchester. Bristol has a higher average wage than the national average. Along with Manchester Bristol has become a tech hub with a large number of successful start-up businesses. Moreover, Bristol is home to aerospace and electronics companies.

Norwich had the smallest population on the list with 142,177 residents, but it was still listed as the fourth-best city. This is because there were 2,127 job listings per 100,000 people. The city boasts a low crime rate, a low unemployment rate, at least 1,500 historic buildings, and two universities. As will be discussed further Norwich has the most opportunities in the healthcare industry in the UK.

Another historical location (Nottingham) is also one of the best cities for work according to the data. It completes the top five with 6,174 job listings, equating to 1,832 per 100,000 people. Nottingham has a number of green spaces and aims to become the first carbon-neutral city in the UK. This is bolstered by excellent transport links meaning car dependency is less of an issue. There are two universities in the city, meaning there are opportunities to study for a chosen career. However, although there is an abundance of job opportunities in the city, you may not want to work there. This is because research has shown job satisfaction is lower than the UK average.

The remaining 10 were:

  • Southampton
  • Newcastle upon Tyne
  • Northampton
  • Edinburgh
  • Derby

As shown, Edinburgh was the only non-English city or town in the top 10. However, outside the country, Glasgow was 11th, Cardiff was 13th and Belfast was 14th.

Which were the best cities and towns to work in the UK by business industry?

Reading cemented its status as one of the best cities or towns for work, by leading employment in a number of business sectors. For example, employers were recruiting more than any other area (relative to population) in six different business industries. These different business sectors include:

  • Accountancy – 172 per 100,000
  • Construction – 277 per 100,000
  • Customer services – 417 per 100,000
  • Engineering – 394 per 100,000
  • IT – 97 per 100,000
  • Teaching – 71 per 100,000

This shows that Reading has exceptional employment growth across a variety of businesses, most notably in customer services.

Norwich dominates cities and towns in the UK in terms of opportunities in the healthcare industry. For example, employers listed healthcare vacancies at a rate of 619 per 100,000 people. This was the highest total score per 100,00 people on the list. They also had the highest recruitment rate for nurses, of any of the towns or cities in the UK.

The top ten list also showed that Manchester was one of the fastest-growing cities in the UK in terms of economy and employment. For example, Manchester has the highest hiring rate in human resources and marketing companies. There were 66 job listings per 100,000 people in HR, and 120 for marketing companies.

Best cities and towns to find employment UK: Summary

A rapid rise in job openings helps support the idea that the economy is rebounding and perhaps surpassing pre-pandemic levels. However, some areas have rebounded faster than others. Reading which is perhaps set to become a city in the coming years was shown to be a recruitment powerhouse.

Research garnered from Indeed Jobs showed which areas in the UK had the most vacancies per 100,000 people. Reading were the breakaway leaders with 2,460. Not only this, but it also led the way in terms of the job sector. Reading is hiring more people than anywhere else, in six different job sectors in the top 10.

The capital city surprisingly did not make the list. Multiple factors mean the city is not one of the best places to work. For example, although there are a large number of opportunities, it is drowned out by high competition, and a high cost of living. For example, as it is one of the most powerful cities in the world, it attracts workers from across the globe. Young professionals around the world flock to the city, as it is the home of some of the largest companies in the world. Furthermore, excellent transport links in England mean workers can commute to work in the city. This means that Londoners are not just competing with fellow Londoners but workers in England, Europe, and even the world.

Also, even though the monthly income is higher on average it is quenched by high living costs such as excessive monthly rent.

The city of Manchester faired better as the second-best on the list. In recent years it has become a creative tech hub with mega-media companies such as Lad Bible. In terms of monthly rent and other living costs, Manchester is relatively low cost in comparison to the nation’s capital.

Bristol City came third thanks to becoming a home for start-up companies and its foundation of aerospace and electronics companies. Norwich city recruited more than any other place in the UK in two sectors. These were in healthcare and nursing.

Nottingham city was fifth on the list. However, despite its green spaces, historical significance, and higher education/job opportunities, quality of life was an issue. The city had a lower job satisfaction than the majority of the UK.

Outside of the UK, only Edinburgh city made the top 10. The city of Glasgow just missed out placing 11th, and Cardiff city and Belfast placed 13th and 14th respectively.