The UK’s Most Common Industries

Guide Author

James Longley

Managing Director

min read
Last Updated May 16, 2022

The UK’s economy is built on a wide range of different industries and businesses and while many areas have evolved into centres of finance, science and technology, other parts of the country are still reliant on traditional industries such as manufacturing, heating and energy, construction and agriculture.

So, how does the economic makeup of the UK look in 2020? We’ve looked at the latest UK business activity data to find out which industries have the most businesses in each local authority around the country.

The UK’s Most Common Industries

Looking across the nation as a whole, the most common sector that businesses fell into was ‘professional, scientific & technical’, which covers things such as lawyers, accountants, management consultants and other professional industries, with 17% and as you can see from the map, these businesses were largely found in the South and Midlands.

However, 12.77% of companies are found in the construction industry, especially in smaller towns, while unsurprisingly, the most rural parts of the country still rely heavily on agriculture (5.41%).

Some of the places that were dominated by slightly more unique industries include Wellingborough, in the East Midlands, which was the only authority which has more businesses in the ‘arts, entertainment, recreation & other services’ sector, and Birmingham and neighbouring Bromsgrove, which were the only two areas to be dominated by ‘business administration and support services businesses’.


All data sourced from the Table 1 of the Office for National Statistics’ UK business: activity, size and location dataset, which is a snapshot of the Inter-Departmental Business Register (IDBR) taken on 13 March 2020 and shows the number of VAT and/or PAYE based enterprises in each local authority by broad industry group, as defined by the Standard Industrial Classification.

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