More than a million young people are unemployed, new figures are expected to show later this week.
Economists predict that Wednesday's jobless total from the Office for National Statistics will be higher than the 2,518,000 seen earlier this year and the 2,521,000 recorded in late 1994, in the wake of the recession of the early 1990s.
It is lowest paid workers who have been hit hardest by the current wave of job losses since 2008, a study for the TUC suggests today.
Sales, service and administrative jobs are responsible for 41 per cent of the increased claimant count in the past three years, says the research, while the second biggest rise has come among labourers, bar and catering staff, and cleaners.
Women have been disproportionately affected by public sector cuts, and hit hard by redundancies in retail. And with thousands of graduates and teenage school-leavers having not found work since joining the jobs market this summer, the number of unemployed 18- to 24-year olds – which was at 973,000 in July – seems likely to be over the 1m mark for the first time since records of youth unemployment began in 1992.
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said those in low-paid work "have paid a particularly heavy price in terms of job losses".