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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A suspected cannabis farm estimated to be worth in excess of £400,000 has been discovered in a Hartlepool property.
The 39-year-old, originally from Gateshead, previously managed Airbus UK Broughton before moving to The New Saints.
PC Nick Downing was photographed blowing a kiss to a group of women who were offering free hugs to members of the public.