Unemployment in Britain passed the two-million mark in the three months to the end of January, reaching its highest level since 1997, official figures showed on Wednesday.
The jobless total reached 2.03 million, pushing the unemployment rate up to 6.5 percent, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
The figures brought renewed calls for temporary wage subsidies from trade union leaders - something the government has rejected.
The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) predicted earlier this month that unemployment would climb to 3.2 million by the end of 2010.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted Wednesday that Britain's recession would last longer than that of any of the world's other major economies.