UK unemployment rose by 28,000 to 2.67m in the three months between November and January, meaning that 8.4 per cent of the economically active population are without a job, figures from the Office of National Statistics show.
Meanwhile youth unemployment rate rose to a record high of 1.042m in the three months to January, taking the unemployment rate for 16 to 24-year-olds to 22.5 per cent, the highest since record began in 1992.
The figures also revealed that 270,000 public sector jobs gone in the past year while 226,000 have been created in the private sector.
The Office for National Statistics said that the number of people claiming jobless benefit rose by 7,200 - slightly more than economists had forecast - to a 1.612 million in February.
Growth in average earnings was slowing, increasing by only 1.4 per cent in the year to January, compared to a rate of 1.9 per cent in December.
The figures will increase the pressure on Chancellor George Osborne to take measures to boost growth and jobs when he presents his 2012/13 budget next week, at a time when the economy is struggling to show sustainable recovery.