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Sunday, 15 December, 2002, 11:25 GMT
North-south divide 'to grow'
Nissan car plant, Sunderland
Nissan is one of the north-east's success stories
The North-South divide is about to get wider, according to new research from a policy think-tank.

A survey from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has revealed the average worker in the North East will only get half the national average income by the year 2020.

Part of the problem is a "brain-drain" of talent from the area to take up better jobs in the south-east.

John Adams, a senior research fellow with IPPR, told BBC Radio Newcastle higher unemployment levels were also to blame.

We have to realise we have lost many jobs in this part of the world in the last decade or so

Bill Midgely
North East Chamber of Commerce

He said: "While the south-east economy might be motoring ahead, even if the north-east economy grows, but by a lesser extent, the gap between north and south is going to get wider and wider as the years go on.

"By 2020 the north-east will be half the UK average.

"It is not just about people in work. The North East also has relatively low levels of employment.

"Unemployment is higher in the North East, but also there is a whole raft of people on sickness and disability benefit."

Mr Adams said while the cost of living in the north was lower than that in other parts of the country, it was not enough to sustain a good quality of life in the long-term.

"The state of your society does not just depend on economic growth, it is about wider quality of life issues," he said.

"But it is harder to have a good quality of life if you are not in a decent, fulfilling job."

Highly skilled

Bill Midgely, from the North East Chamber of Commerce, said he did not agree that wages in the north-east would drop to half the national average.

He said: "We earn about an average of 85-90% of the national wage... the trend will continue, but whether we get to 50% or not is highly debatable.

"We have to realise we have lost many jobs in this part of the world in the last decade or so.

"They were highly skilled and well-paid jobs and we have replaced them with lower paid jobs.

"The best jobs are not here and will not be here until we have more companies centred in the region."

See also:

22 Nov 02 | Business
22 May 02 | Business
26 Feb 02 | Business
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