The Government was last night accused of "shocking neglect" of the North-East as the nation's census showed the region still lagging behind on health, education and work.
The 2001 census, published yesterday, reveals the region has England's highest rate of people in poor health, the highest proportion of adults with no qualifications and the most who are economically inactive and permanenly sick or disabled.
And people are leaving the North-East at a higher rate than anywhere else in the country.
Between 1991 and 2001 the region lost 72,000 people - 2.8pc of its 2,515,000 population - which is likely to mean even lower hand-outs for vital town hall services like education, social services and job creation.
Kevin Curran, secretary of the region's biggest union, the GMB, claimed last night: "These figures reveal the shocking neglect from Labour and Conservative Governments in this region. The North-East urgently needs help and we have been saying this for years. The figures make depressing reading on work, skills and health.
"This region still suffers more and bears more than the fair brunt of poverty, hardship and unemployment.
"The GMB's priorities are extra help and resources for this region and I again call on Government to address the issues that these statistics reveal."
He added: "Unless action is taken now we will have the same depressing figures in the Census of 2011 and beyond."
Newcastle Central MP Jim Cousins called on the Government to reverse the population decline by moving public services headquarters in the South to the North-East.
He said: "We need more people here and there should be a strong emphasis on relocating people from the South-East to here where there is a brilliant quality of life and the Government should take a lead in that."
The row follows anger over this year's disappointing Whitehall hand-out for town halls which was less than North East leaders hoped for because of a formula based more on population than need. And last night there were fears that the situation could get worse.
Chairman of the North-East Assembly Tony Flynn said: "We need to get more resources into the region - but based on our level of need rather than population which is still a major determinant as far as council grant is concerned."
Labour leader of Northumberland County Council Mike Davey said: "The region is being totally ignored.
"If the Government doesn't start listening to what we have been trying to tell them for years than we are just going to spiral downwards and the next census survey's results will be worse."
Last night a spokesman for the Government Office for the North-East rejected claims that the region was being "neglected".
The spokesman said: "Active management is going on to transform the region, to counter the gradual decline that we saw over previous decades. It is not going to be easy but there is a tremendous will to do it. And we can see improvements taking place across the region in places like Newcastle, Sunderland and former coal towns."
The Journal: The Voice of the North
Page 2: Call for more cash as figures show we have much to learn....