There were 2.64 million unemployed people in the third quarter of 2011, up 128,000 on the previous three months quarter, findings from the Office of National Statistics revealed this morning.
The employment rate for those aged from 16 to 64 was 70.3 per cent, down 0.2 on the quarter.
Although public sector employment decreased by 67,000 in the third quarter of 2011, to 5.987 million, employment in the private sector increased by 5,000 to 23.120 million.
There were 29.11 million people in employment aged 16 and over, down 63,000 on the quarter.
The number of people employed in the public sector fell by 67,000 on the quarter to reach 5.99 million. The number of people employed in the private sector rose by 5,000 on the quarter to reach 23.12 million.
The unemployment rate was 8.3% of the economically active population, up 0.4% on the quarter. The unemployment rate is the highest since 1996 and the number of unemployed people is the highest since 1994.
The inactivity rate for those aged from 16 to 64 was 23.2 per cent, down 0.1 on the quarter. There were 9.33 million economically inactive people aged from 16 to 64, down 54,000 on the quarter.
Daniel Callaghan, director of global consulting marketplace, MBAandCo, said: "There was a grim sense of inevitability about these figures.
"Accompanied by a steady drumbeat of bad economic news, 128,000 people joined the dole queue.
"Once again, young people are feeling the force of the downturn more than most - more than a million are now unemployed.
"And the Government's hope that the private sector would ride to the rescue of those being made redundant by the public sector is fading fast.
"While public sector jobs fell by 67,000, the private sector took on a meagre 5,000 new staff.
"The fact is that most companies are still too cautious to hire. Should their fortunes take a turn for the worse in this fragile economy, excessive spending on wage bills could prove fatal.
"This is a disappointing end to 2011 and a shot across the bow for the Government going into 2012 - worse news could lie ahead.
"It seems that, despite the modest progress of Project Merlin, UK businesses still need a further shot in the arm in order to kickstart economic growth."
Total pay (including bonuses) rose by 2% on a year earlier, down 0.3% on the three months to September 2011(with both the private and public sectors showing lower pay growth).
Regular pay (excluding bonuses) rose by 1.8% on a year earlier, up 0.1% on the three months to September 2011.
Local government employment decreased by 59,000; central government decreased by 2,000 and employment in public corporations decreased by 6,000.
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