THE North West is being left behind as it struggles to tackle unemployment, a senior union official has warned.

North West TUC's quarterly economic report looks at the employment rate of the UK and the North West in the last 20 years.

It found that although the UK employment rate has increased from 2011 to 2013 (70.2% to 71.8%), in the North West it has fallen from 68.8% to 6% over the same period.

The gap between the UK and North West rate now stands it at its highest in 20 years (3.3%), with the 2013 employment rate even lower than those found in the recession period of 2008-2010.

All this, says the North West TUC, shows the need for more to be done across the region to tackle this.

Lynn Collins, NWTUC regional secretary, said: "We welcome the drop in unemployment.

"However, the bigger picture tells us that all is not well in the North West and won't be unless action is taken now to address this.

"We are concerned that a North/South divide – our figures this week show that there is a gap between ourselves and the rest of the UK and today’s figures show this, with unemployment higher in the region than the UK average.

"There are still 270,000 people unemployed and those in work are struggling as wages have increased by just 0.9% whilst inflation stands at over 2%.

"We need investment in jobs, skills and wages to ensure that the North West doesn't get left behind whilst the South East reaps the rewards of a recovery that we hear of but are not yet seeing.”