The number of people unemployed in Britain rose by 43,000 to 2.5 million during the three months to February.
The Office for National Statistics said the jobless total is now at its highest since 1994.
The rate of unemployment now stands at 8% - the highest since 1996.
However, the total number of people claiming unemployment benefit fell in March by 32,900 to 1.54 million - a much sharper fall than expected.
ONS figures showed youth unemployment rising, with 929,000 people aged 16 - 24 out of work in the December to February period - a rise of 4000 on the previous three months.
Unemployment among the over-50s rose by 7000 to 396,000.
The BBC reports 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 110,000 to a record total of 8.16 million, equivalent to 21.5% of the population.