British foreign trade underwent an upsurge at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, increasing 80%. This economic vitality meant that England had the best-fed and best-housed population in Europe. A high proportion of the population, about 30%, was no longer directly dependent on agriculture to live. England also had a large "middling sort" (middle-class bankers, merchants, professionals, traders, shopkeepers, & self employed artisians). This group constituted 40% of the population.