Belfast is amongst the 10 best UK cities in which to live and work, according to a new report.
The city outperformed Manchester, Glasgow and Cardiff, among others.
The 2015 Good Growth for Cities index from business consultants PwC and think-tank Demos combined economic performance with quality of life to rank Belfast as eighth.
Dr Esmond Birnie, PwC chief economist in Northern Ireland, said: “Our analysis reveals that Belfast scores well in terms of work-life balance, commuting times and housing affordability.
“However, relative to the other cities in the index there are skills shortages and a decline in real incomes; and, while Belfast scores well for jobs, there are some sectoral imbalances and employment creation is not reflecting the speed of recovery elsewhere in the UK.”
He said many of the larger cities in England and Scotland are demonstrating strong economic recovery, but paying the price of property price inflation, pollution and long travel-to-work times for workers living in suburbs and rural areas.
“While the Good Growth index clearly shows that there is more to the performance of a city than simply GDP, in the case of Belfast the relatively attractive social, housing and infrastructure attractions need to be matched by an acceleration in economic competitiveness if the city’s ranking is to improve.”
While the city has slipped two places since the 2014 Good Growth report where Belfast was ranked sixth amongst the 39 UK cities surveyed, the fall since last year reflected Belfast’s slower than average employment recovery and the lack of real growth in regional wages, the report said.
Paul Terrington, regional chairman of PwC in Northern Ireland, warned against complacency.
He said: “In Northern Ireland, the challenge in achieving good growth is to get the balance right between investment and reform and maintain a clear focus on driving improved productivity and economic growth while delivering better value public services.”
He said the Stormont Executive needed to look to the English regions where holistic plans are being created for cities integrating skills, infrastructure and development for a single purpose of creating good growth.
“Northern Ireland continues to lag the rest of the UK in its recovery competitiveness and productivity and our forecast is for growth of around 1.6% in 2015, well behind most other UK regions - that in itself, is a challenge for Belfast,” he added.