Job creation in parts of the country is almost a third down on pre-recession levels, according to a new report.
The TUC said the recent increase in employment is being driven by fewer people leaving their jobs rather than more finding new work.
The number of people starting a new job within a three month period is about 20% lower across the UK than before the recession and is falling in some areas, said the union organisation.
Inner London is the only region where jobs are being created at a faster rate than before the crash, the study found.
In parts of the West Midlands, job creation is down by 31%, and by 30% on Merseyside and the rest of the North West, said the report.
TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "Many people assume that rising employment levels are simply down to more people getting new work. In fact, the recent recovery in our jobs market is mainly due to people holding onto their jobs, rather than finding new ones.
"This is great news if you want to keep earning as you approach retirement, but less positive if you're trying to take your first step on the career ladder.
"It's worrying that across huge swathes of the country - and particularly in rural areas - job creation levels remain depressed and that where jobs are being created far more are temporary positions than before the crash.
"We need to see far more high-quality jobs being created, not just in our cities but across the UK, if we're going to achieve full employment and a return to healthy pay rises."
A spokesman for the Department of Work and Pensions said: "This report paints a misleading picture of the jobs market. The reality is we have record numbers of people in work, the number of private sector workers are up by more than two million since 2010, and this Government's long-term plan to build a strong economy is working.
"Job vacancies rose by 116,000 over the past year, and it's a sign of confidence among businesses up and down the country that they're working hard to hold on to staff as well as taking on new workers."