ONS reveals Manchester and Salford are England's two fastest-growing cities

The ONS has this week released its mid-year population estimates for 2019, revealing that Manchester's population grew faster than any other English city in the year to summer 2019.

High density new residential developments are driving rapid population growth in Manchester and Salford
High density new residential developments are driving rapid population growth in Manchester and Salford

The data reveals that the City of Manchester's population rose by an additional 5,231 people between 2018 and 2019, giving it a new population of 552,858. The city breached half a million people in 2011, and is due to hit 600,000 by the middle of this decade. This makes Manchester the England's fastest growing city, as the data - by the Office for National Statistics - revealed.

Prospering neighbours

England's second-fastest growing city is in fact Salford, which neighbours Manchester, and which grew by 4,426 people between 2018 and 2019. Leeds is the fastest-growing metropolitan district in England outside Greater Manchester - the West Yorkshire city increased its population by 3,945 inhabitants in the twelve months to mid-2019.

The cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh both grew faster than Manchester last year, adding an additional 6,710 and 6,430 inhabitants respectively over the period.

Greater Manchester - the metropolitan region around Manchester and Salford - is now the fastest-growing metropolitan area in the UK, adding an additional 23,117 people in 2018/19 to produce a final population of 2,835,686. Greater Manchester's population breached 2.8 million only last year, and has grown rapidly from a low of 2.5 million in 2001. Growth in Greater Manchester is also accelerating. Between 2009 and 2014, the region's population grew by 90,290 (18,058 per year), while between 2014 and 2019, the population grew by 105,563 - 21,113 per year. Data for 2018-19 reveals that growth has sped up yet again, with the latest figures suggesting a one-year rise of 23,117.

Uneven growth

All boroughs of Greater Manchester have grown in population, but population growth has not been distributed equally across the metropolitan area. Manchester and Salford alone account for nearly 42% of the total growth seen in Greater Manchester, while Bolton, Rochdale and Wigan account for a further 31%. Bury saw the lowest growth of the ten boroughs - adding just 882 people in the year to summer 2019, while Trafford, Tameside and Oldham also grew quite slowly. Large-scale apartment schemes in the centres of Manchester and Salford are believed to have driven the huge increases in population in these areas.

Greater Manchester's population grew faster than entire nations and counties such as Wales, Kent, Northern Ireland and North East England between 2018 and 2019.

All other UK metropolitan regions are also growing quickly. West Yorkshire (the metropolitan region around Leeds) and West Midlands (the metropolitan area around Birmingham) added an additional 12,255 and 12,134 people respectively to their populations. The West Midlands remains the UK's largest metropolitan region outside London, with a population of over 2.9 million.

Looking at other English cities, Liverpool, Newcastle and Bradford all grew at a notable rate between 2018 and 2019 - adding 3,228, 2,624 and 2,603 people to their population between 2018 and 2019. Only Bristol and Hull's population declined during this period, by -28 and -867 people respectively.

London's population grew by an additional 53,908 people between 2018 and 2019. London's fastest-growing boroughs were Camden (+7,803), Tower Hamlets (+7,040) and Westminster (+5,993).

An ageing population - but not everywhere

The ONS data also shines a light on the median age of the UK and its constituent parts. Generally, the UK's median age is rising, albeit slowly. In 2019, the median age of the UK population was 40.3, up from 40.1 the previous year. The UK's median population has aged 2.4 years since 2001, with the fastest ageing seen in Wales - +3.1 years.

However, not all areas of the UK are ageing. The median age of cities is declining as more and more young people flock to them. For instance, Newcastle upon Tyne's median age has declined by nearly four years since 2001, to 32.3. Nottingham and Coventry have also seen their median ages fall by three years since 2001.

Oxford, Nottingham and Manchester are the youngest cities in the UK, with a median age of 28.9, 29.7 and 30.1 respectively. In Manchester, the median age has fallen by 1.7 years since 2001, and by 0.1 years between 2018 and 2019.

Conversely, it tends to be non-metropolitan districts and rural areas where the population's median age is on the rise. Rutland, Ceredigion and North Norfolk all saw the fastest growth in median age in the UK in the year to summer 2019 - growing by over 0.5 years. This indicates that these areas see a low influx of younger people and the current population's natural ageing is pushing up the overall median.