Edinburgh is the most competitive large city in the UK according to the Centre for International Competitiveness. Edinburgh also has the highest Gross value added per employee of any city in the UK outside London, measuring £50,256 in 2007. A combination of these factors saw Edinburgh named the Best Small City of the future by fDi Magazine for 2010/11. Education and health, finance and business services, retailing and tourism are the largest employers. The economy of Edinburgh is largely based on the services sector – centred around banking, financial services, higher education, and tourism. As of March 2010 unemployment in Edinburgh is comparatively low at 3.6%, and remains consistently below the Scottish average of 4.5%. Banking has been a part of the economic life of Edinburgh for over 300 years, with the establishment of the Bank of Scotland – now part of the Lloyds Banking Group – by an act of the original Parliament of Scotland in 1695. Today, together with the financial services industry, with particular strengths in insurance and investment underpinned by the presence of Edinburgh based firms such as Scottish Widows and Standard Life, Edinburgh is the UK's second financial centre after London and Europe's fourth by equity assets. The Royal Bank of Scotland opened its new global headquarters at Gogarburn in the west of the city in October 2005. Edinburgh has recently become home to the headquarters of Tesco Bank and Virgin Money.
Tourism is an important economic mainstay in the city. As a World Heritage Site, tourists come to visit such historical sites as Edinburgh Castle, the Palace of Holyroodhouse and the Georgian New Town. This is augmented in August of each year with the presence of the Edinburgh Festivals, which bring in over 4.4 million visitors, and generate in excess of £100m for the Edinburgh economy.
As the centre of Scotland's government, as well as its legal system, the public sector plays a central role in the economy of Edinburgh, with many departments of the Scottish Government located in the city. Other major employers include NHS Scotland and local government administration.
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“Unaware of the absurdity of it, we introduce our own petty household rules into the economy of the universe for which the life of generations, peoples, of entire planets, has no importance in relation to the general development.”
—Alexander Herzen (18121870)