The number of people claiming unemployment related benefit today showed its highest monthly rise in more than a decade.
The claimant count figure of 950,800 in May was 9,700 higher than the previous month - a rise not matched since December 1992 - and was 12,000 stronger than six months ago.
Further figures from the Office for National Statistics showed the number of unemployed people in the three months to April rose 36,000 on the previous quarter to 1,495,000.
Despite the surprise rise, the ONS said the number of people in employment remained at its highest level since records began in 1984, rising 51,000 over the previous quarter to 27.87 million.
The claimant count rate is still at 3.1 per cent of the workforce, the same as the last 16 months, while the employment rate of 5.1 per cent is lower than most other developed countries. It is also down 0.1 per cent over the year.
Unemployment has remained at historically low levels over the last year, although the data today highlighted the continued pressure being put on the figures by the hard pressed manufacturing sector.
The number of industrial-based jobs in the three months to April fell by 3.7 per cent on a year earlier to 3.53 million - the lowest level since records began in 1984.
The largest falls were seen in electrical and optical equipment and textiles, leather and clothing.
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