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."
More top news
Teesside born singer-songwriter James Arthur is the latest artist to be confirmed for this year's Mouth of the Tyne Festival.
A Stockton man who threatened to kill Muslim people in an online rant after the London Bridge terror attacks has been jailed for 20 months.
South Shields-born Sir Ridley Scott paid tribute to his former teachers at Hartlepool College of Art in his acceptance speech.