National Productivity Week 27th January 2025 | Visit Website

A diverse community of
leading experts, policymakers
and practitioners

The Institute’s key research themes
are led by ten academic partners
spread across the UK.

We’re a UK-wide research
organisation exploring what
productivity means for business

Businesses are crucial to solving
the UK’s productivity problems.


Labour market polarization, human capital and regional productivity

This research examines issues of labour market skills and income polarization in the UK and their implications for understanding spatial issues of human capital distribution and formation within regional economies. A central debate regarding the changing structure of the economy and labour market concerns the extent to which polarization has occurred within different countries through a ‘hollowing out’ of middle-skilled or -income jobs, combined with an increased demand for higher and lower skilled work (a ‘U shaped’ labour market). The research also seeks to identify whether upgrading has occurred rather than polarization, such as through an increased demand for higher skilled work, or whether downgrading has occurred through a shift toward lower skilled employment. The research draws primarily on the Annual Population Survey (APS), UK Labour Force Survey (LFS) for long-term national trends, and Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) to understand the wage, job and industrial structure.

Project Lead Anthony Rafferty (The University of Manchester)
Researcher Isabelle Bi (The University of Manchester)

The University of Manchester