The number of people in work across the North East has increased over the last year, as official figures released today show the UK employment rate has risen to a new record high of 73.7 per cent.
The statistics for the North East reveal that 1.16million (68.3 per cent) people in the region are employed - an increase of 2,000 over the quarter and 1,000 over the year.
Meanwhile, North East unemployment stands at 109,000 or 8.6 per cent - a rise of 6,000 over the quarter, but a fall of 9,000 over the year. This compares to a rate of 5.3 per cent nationally.
The figures show that 10,000 fewer 16 to 24 year olds in the North East are unemployed compared to a year ago, a fall of 18.3 per cent.
The claimant count stands at 47,300 or 3.9 per cent in the North East, while the national claimant count is 795,500 or 2.3 per cent. In Northumberland, the number of claimants is 4,143, which is a drop of 833 or 17 per cent compared to last year.
Responding to the North-East figures, employment minister Priti Patel said: "Employment is at a record-breaking high and wages have continued to grow strongly, demonstrating that this Government is delivering for hard-working people.
"With two million more people in work since 2010, the unemployment rate at its lowest in seven years, and the number of people on one of the main out of work benefits down by a million since 2010, it is clear that this Government is transforming lives for the better, and creating the higher wage, lower welfare society that British people want to see.
"The number of people claiming unemployment-related benefits in the North East has fallen by 40 per cent since 2010. But this growth is only one part of the story, because our one nation approach involves a commitment to provide opportunity and security for everyone across the country."
However, the NECC has said that while there has been an increase in the number of people employed in the North East, more must be done to close the UK gap.
Director of Policy, Ross Smith said: "There has been no significant movement this quarter and although there has been a slight increase in employment, the North East has not yet started to close the gap with the rest of the country.
"With the ongoing impact of the SSI closure in Teesside it is likely this may take time. There are packages of help and support available to companies in the supply chain and grants available to employers who employ former SSI workers and we hope these can be accessed by as many of those affected as possible.
"A very positive sign is the decrease in youth unemployment. The North East has shown positive measures in improving the work-readiness of young people and we continue to urge business and education leaders to work together in order to reduce a potential skills gap."