Competition for jobs has eased, but more than 70 people are still chasing every vacancy in parts of the country, according to a new report.
A study by jobs search engine Adzuna found huge regional differences, with 72 jobseekers for every vacancy in Salford, compared with fewer than one in Aberdeen, Cambridge, Guildford and Winchester.
Nine of the top 10 hardest places to find a job last month were in the north, led by Salford, Sunderland and Hull, although competition for work has fallen in Manchester and Newcastle in the past six months.
The research also revealed that average advertised salaries have fallen "sharply" over the past year, slumping by 3.5% to £33,462.
There were over half a million vacancies in July, 1% higher than a year ago, with the average of number of jobseekers per position falling below three.
Flora Lowther, head of research at Adzuna, said: "A sustained salary squeeze is the dark cloud lingering over a brightening UK jobs market. All other indicators show life is improving for jobseekers.
"Competition for vacancies is easing, there are more jobs available, and the north-south divide is showing signs of narrowing. But salaries have fallen sharply in real terms. They haven't kept pace with the relentless march of inflation, which is a major reason why the economic recovery hasn't been more dynamic.
"Conditions are starting to improve for jobseekers in the north. Advertised salaries are growing fastest in northern towns and cities, and more jobs are being created than ever before outside of London and the South East.
"The construction and manufacturing sectors are certainly propping up the job market in this part of the country, with some early indications that government efforts to revitalise the economy outside of London are starting to take effect."