The Hampshire Economic Area includes the territory covered by Hampshire County Council and the two unitary authority areas of Portsmouth and Southampton - hence it covers, in statistical terms, 13 local authority districts. There are also several other large towns and – particularly in the central area – a series of smaller market towns and a myriad of villages in an extensive rural area.
Within it, three broad sub-areas are recognised:
- North Hampshire: straddling the M3 motorway and including some large settlements (e.g. Basingstoke, Aldershot and Farnborough) but also a significant rural area
- Central Hampshire/New Forest: a predominantly rural area, much of it within the boundary of the South Downs and New Forest National Parks, and, in settlement terms, comprising with a network of market towns and smaller settlements, but also Winchester and Andover
- South Hampshire: a largely – although not exclusively – urban area, including Southampton and Portsmouth, but also other sizeable urban areas (e.g. Havant, Gosport, Fareham and Eastleigh).
Hampshire is home to 1.7 million people (of whom, just over one million are of working age).
Business and employment
Hampshire has well over 60,000 businesses and approaching 780,000 employees. Of these, about 120,000 commute to workplaces outside the Hampshire Economic Area (including 25,000 who work in London). At the same time, some 90,000 people commute into the area.
Overall, the rate of unemployment (measured in terms of JSA claimants) is about 2.9%, similar to the regional average. For South Hampshire, the rate of unemployment is higher (3.3%). Central Hampshire/New Forest records the lowest rate of unemployment (2.0%).
The skills profile of the Hampshire Economic Area’s working age residents is similar to the South East average. Within this, Districts in Central Hampshire/New Forest perform well, but the profile across Districts in South Hampshire is weak with a low incidence of higher level skills amongst the resident population.
Overall, the annual value of economic output is around £35bn. The Hampshire Economic Area therefore constitutes a large economy; on most indicators it accounts for about 20% of the South East economy.