THE city is “punching above its weight” after smashing its own employment targets.

Brighton and Hove set out to help businesses create 6,000 jobs between 2010 and 2013. However, official data shows the jobs market exceeded expectations by more than 50%, with 9,400 new jobs.

The new figures show private sector dynamism has helped the city outperform London on a “head-for-head basis” when comparing jobs growth.

A senior councillor has also predicted the city could rank in the top five for growth in 2015.

The Office for National Statistics business register and employment survey ranks Brighton and Hove 38th out of 380 local authority areas in Great Britain for employment growth – putting it in the top 10% in the country.

Employment was up 8.1% between 2010 and 2013, a rise from 116,865 to 126,329. The improvement was even higher in the private sector, at 10.5%.

Insurance and finance, retail, culture and performing arts, digital and IT were cited as helping drive this growth. Councillor Geoffrey Bowden, chairman of Brighton and Hove’s economic development and culture committee, said: “This is very positive news for the city, unemployment is down and the pace of jobs being created is growing.

“Brighton and Hove is among areas leading the country in terms of private sector dynamism. We are out-competing London on a head-for-head basis and we are very much punching above our weight. We have seen growth across a wide range of sectors, such as insurance and finance, retail, culture, digital and IT.

“A great deal of partnership work goes on in the city to support and develop the local economy, but we are not complacent and will continue to work to build on these results and bring further growth in employment. The outlook for 2015 indicates that Brighton will rank 4th of 64 cities in terms of private sector growth, ahead of London.”

The target to create at least 6,000 jobs by 2014 was made in the City Employment Skills Plan (CESP) published in November 2011. The CESP was developed by a steering group of agencies and businesses in the city, including Brighton and Hove City Council, the universities, the voluntary sector, Job Centre Plus and key businesses including American Express and Brighton and Hove Jobs. It is chaired by Tony Mernagh, executive director of the Economic Partnership.

Mr Mernagh said: “It doesn’t surprise me because we’ve got a good track record – which is just as well because we need one with increasing working-age populations.

“But we’re not complacent and an area of particular concern is youth unemployment.

“We’ve got a good record of it coming down but we’re still higher than the national average. That’s now the real priority for us.”