Sunderland had one of the best-performing city economies in the country at the end of last year, according to new research.
The UK Powerhouse study produced by Irwin Mitchell and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) shows the area is 'vastly outperforming' rival cities in the North East.
The report provides an estimate of growth in Gross Value Added (the total value of goods and services produced) and job creation within 45 of the UK’s largest cities 12 months ahead of the Government’s official figures.
The latest rearch shows Sunderland enjoyed year-on-year GVA growth of 1.5% in the last three months of 2017, which made it the sixth best performing city in the UK.
In contrast, Newcastle recorded GVA growth of 1.1% across the quarter, while Middlesbrough’s rate of 0.8% put it among the worst performing areas.
But the report also suggests all three of the North East’s major cities are likely to struggle in the coming years.
By the end of 2028, it is expected growth in Sunderland will have slowed to 0.7%, with Newcastle and Middlesbrough predicted to record rates of 0.6% and 0.3% respectively.
Employment growth across each of the areas is also expected to slow to 0.3% in the next decade.
Victoria Brackett, chief executive of Irwin Mitchell’s Business Legal Services division, said: "Our report highlights that the faster rates of economic growth continue to be concentrated in locations in the South and around the so-called ‘Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford Arc’.
"All businesses need to operate in an economic environment that allows them to flourish and we firmly believe the government can do more."
A Sunderland City Council spokesman said: "Our city has a strong economic presence with its automotive and advanced manufacturing sectors, its financial and customer services, and its growing software and digital industries.
"The visitor and tourism economy are also expanding alongside the city’s premier cultural attractions.
"Plans for creating more than 7,000 new jobs at the new International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP) close to the A19 are progressing, and as new infrastructure comes on stream, such as the Northern Spire bridge, there are strong prospects for further economic growth and development.
"At the Vaux site, and across the city centre, there is great potential to attract more investment and, as of March 2018, there is already £1.5billionn of public and private investment committed to our city over the next six years."