Employment levels across the UK in April 2011, the latest available figures, were down 0.5% on pre-recession levels, the TUC said.
The union organisation found that there was still great disparity between regions in the UK with employment up 122,000, or 3.3%, in London but down 70,000, minus 2.8%, in the West Midlands.
The number of people in work is higher than pre-recession levels in London, the East of England and the East Midlands, while the North East, the West Midlands and the South West have the widest jobs gaps.
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “While employment has been more resilient than other parts of our economy, we are still a long way short of returning to our pre-recession health, particularly for men working outside London.
“What’s also worrying is that while the national jobs outlook has shown some improvement in recent months, it’s getting worse for women in most parts of the country. Women are more than twice as likely as men to have public service jobs, so they are suffering from the Government’s decision to cull public sector jobs and impose a two-year pay freeze.
“A return to strong growth is the only way to close the jobs gap but Government austerity is jeopardising our economic prospects. The Government urgently needs a plan for growth that creates jobs across the UK, rather than concentrating them in parts of the capital while the rest of the country is left behind.”
The TUC research shows that there were 41,000 more women working in April 2011 than December 2007, while there were 199,000 fewer men in employment. Women are still facing a jobs gap in some regions – female employment in the North East is down 5.1% on pre-recession levels – although in London it is up 4.3%.
A spokesman for the Department for Business said: “The Government is committed to promoting growth across the whole country. We have cut corporation tax, exempted small businesses from new domestic regulation and absolved new businesses from paying employment taxes on their first employees.
“The new £1.4 billion Regional Growth Fund (RGF) is providing support for projects that can drive sustainable economic growth. The first round saw numerous businesses and projects make successful bids for significant funding to create and safeguard jobs. In 2011-12 the Government will increase funding for apprenticeships to over £1.4 billion, sufficient to train 360,000 apprentices, giving people the training that builds successful careers and enables businesses to gain the skills they need to grow.”
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