The North East Chamber of Commerce said it was "surprising and worrying" that the unemployment rate has risen above 10% again in the North East, after a growth in employment throughout 2012.
The organisation, which represents local businesses, said in a statement that employment and unemployment statistics were "heading in the wrong direction" and called for efforts to "ensure that skills levels are improved to help people back into work."
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Brompton, Dalton and Great Langton are among the areas to have received the flood prevention equipment.