Improving skills levels and new business formation have been the key long-term drivers of city growth since the financial crisis, according to analysts.
The latest Good Growth for Cities index published by think tank Demos and accountants PwC shows the average city has improved its score significantly over the last 10 years.
It says they have now 'more than recovered from the recession and downturn triggered by the global financial crisis'.
But it also highlights areas where things have got worse including reduced housing affordability, lower owner occupation rates and big increases in average commuting times.
Oxford and Reading top the index for third year running while Southampton is beginning to close the gap between the top two cities and the rest.
Preston tops the most improved city rankings since last year’s index while other big improvers including Middlesbrough, Stockton, Wakefield and Castleford.
PwC chief economist John Hawksworth said: 'Almost all UK cities have seen improved good growth scores in recent years, driven primarily by cyclical falls in unemployment rates that have now rippled out from the South East of England to regions like the North East that were previously lagging behind.'