The number of people unemployed in the UK rose by 53,000 to 2.51 million during the three months to March, official figures have shown.
The unemployment total is now at its highest level since December 1994.
However, the total number of people claiming unemployment benefit fell in April by 27,100 to 1.52 million – a sharper fall than expected.
The rate of unemployment remained at 8%, the Office for National Statistics said.
There was also a rise in the number of people classed as economically inactive – those out of work and not seeking work.
They rose by almost 100,000 to a record total of just under 8.2 million.
John Philpott of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development said the latest data underlined how tough a challenge the new coalition government faced.
“The big task for the government is trying to stimulate growth while also cutting the deficit,” he told the BBC.
“There’s nothing to suggest we’re going to get a return to anything approaching full employment anytime soon.”
Taken from BBC News