With over 4,900 businesses, the borough contributes about 9% of the wider Lancashire business base and is home to the largest number of businesses of the Pennine Lancashire authorities. A range of sectors operate in the borough. Five main areas make up over half of businesses in the borough. These are:

  • professional scientific and technical services
  • retail
  • business administration and support services
  • manufacturing
  • construction

In addition to the large public sector local government and health sector employers, there are a number of large private sectors businesses operating from the borough. These include;

  • Crown Paints
  • John Lewis supplier Herbert Parkinson
  • Graham and Brown wall coverings
  • Euro Garages

There are in the region of 70,000 employee jobs in Blackburn with Darwen. Around seven in ten jobs in the borough are found in the main sectors of; health, manufacturing, retail and wholesale, education and business administration and support services.

Despite a national decline the borough retains a higher than average level of employment in the manufacturing sector. Although the majority of employee jobs in the borough are found within the in the private sector, employment within the public sector is above regional and national averages.

The borough has an entrepreneurial culture, with a business start-up rate higher than Lancashire as a whole and a proportion of higher turnover businesses just above the Lancashire average.

Labour market

The labour market characteristics of working age residents in the borough show proportions greater than the national average of people classed as economically inactive. Of these, the borough has a larger proportion described as ‘looking after home and family’.

For people classed as economically active, employment levels for both males and females are below the national and regional averages.

Overall unemployment rates, are higher in the borough.


Earnings levels are available as workplace and resident based figures. Workplace based wages for the borough appear consistently at a higher level than resident based wages. People who work in the borough, have on average, higher earnings than those who live in the borough. This may suggest that people commute into the borough for some of the better paid jobs, rather than these being taken by residents.