More clearly expressed wisdom and informed commonsense from economist David Bailey 

For some background on the Markets, look at his last column in The Post which can be found here.

A few points made: 

One way of saving – let alone creating – several thousand jobs is for the LEP, and in particular Birmingham City Council, to recognise that Birmingham Wholesale Markets are a commercially viable economic institution that brings great benefits to the city and the region. 

Professor Bailey originally put the total Markets-related jobs figure at around 4000, but an interesting piece of work by Forrest Research puts the total number of dependent jobs as high as 15,000. That gives the Markets a pretty big local and regional economic footprint. 

Forrest Research 

-The Markets service the West Midlands ‘region’ (with a population of 5.5 million), as well as the middle third of Wales and the northern parts of the South West. 

-The Markets support close to 200 retail markets, and 90 farmers’ and country markets, encompassing some 2,000 retail traders. Assuming 2.5 dependent full-time equivalent jobs (FTEs) at these traders, some 5,000 FTE jobs are at risk if the Markets were to close. 

– As well as direct employment at the retail markets, the array of related ancillary and support activities can be estimated at a further 0.25 FTEs per retail trader, ensuring a further potential 500 FTEs in the catchment area at risk. 

– In addition to the employment supported in the retail markets, the City Council itself calculates that close to 5,000 independent local retail and catering businesses rely on the Markets. Assuming a FTE job dependency of 1.5 (which seems reasonable), this multiplier gives an employment effect of 7,500. 

– There are over 2,400 heavy and light deliveries each trading week around the Markets. Assuming a multiplier of 0.5 FTE in the logistics sector, there are a further 1,200 FTE job dependents here as well. 

– Given the number of companies operating on the site, then another 20-30 dependent ancillary FTEs could be assumed. 

Professor Bailey concludes: 

This new jobs estimate adds weight to the earlier claim (see here) by Shabana Mahmood MP that the loss of the Markets could have a significance for the regional economy as big as the closure of MG Rover. The latter ultimately led to loss of some 10,000 jobs at the firm and in the supply chain. Some may have scoffed at the MP’s claims at the time, but actually she is in the right ball park. 

If (and that’s still a big if) there really is a need to expand the city centre to build more retail and office space, then perhaps a small slice of that £700 million pot that the LEP reckons will be created by the city centre Enterprise Zone could go towards funding a new city site for the Markets.

Read the whole article here.