This paper assesses the recent employment history of the North of England and its constituent sub-regions and cities within the context of broader trends in the UK and of major policy changes in the last 2 years. The paper draws on previous surveys of the employment performance of the North and on recent statistics on Job Seeker's Allowance, and underemployment estimates based on the Special License UK Labour Force Survey. The paper describes the performance of the North during the long boom (1996 to 2006), and examines changes in the pattern of employment following the 2008/9 recession. Logistic regression is used to explore patterns of involuntary part time employment, broader time-related underemployment, and general and graduate level over-education. The findings reveal that beyond relatively higher levels of unemployment, several of the sub-regions and cities of the North of England also suffer comparatively high levels of underemployment and over-education, suggesting a potential under-utilisation of skills in the Northern regions. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.