The county’s economic structure is distinctive. A relatively small business stock exists and the majority of employers in the private sector are small businesses, whilst a significant proportion of the population is self-employed. There is a strong reliance on the public sector for employment, with almost one in three people working in the various sub-sectors of health and social work, education and public administration.

Northumberland’s unemployment rate tends to be much lower than other parts of the North East and the employment rate tends to remain fairly buoyant, mostly reflecting national trends.
 

The distribution of employment within Northumberland is unique. The biggest employer is the public sector.
Almost three quarters of Northumberland’s businesses employ less than five people. This is similarly the case across the LEP area and England as a whole.

Currently, there are approximately five businesses per 100 working-age residents in Northumberland, which is higher than all other areas of the LEP, and Northumberland’s business population accounts for almost a quarter of the total NELEP business stock.
 
GVA measures the value of economic output for an area. The total GVA (Balanced) for Northumberland in 2016 (£5,100m) represents 10.1% of the total GVA for the North East region (£50,675m) or 13.5% of the North East LEP total (£37,871m).
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Northumberland currently has the lowest proportion of people with no qualifications in the North East (8%), and 30% of the population (aged 16-64) held a degree, or equivalent. (2014).