UK unemployment was 1.92 million between September and November, up 131,000 from the previous three months, the highest level since September 1997.
That does not include the tens of thousands of jobs cut since November.
The number of people claiming jobseeker's allowance increased 77,900 to 1.16 million in December, according to the Office for National Statistics.
"Every job loss, every redundancy, is a matter of regret and sadness for us all," said Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
"We may not be able to help people keep their existing job, but we will help people get into a new job," he added, during Prime Minister's Questions.
Leader of the Opposition David Cameron said, "It is clear that the British economy faces dark days indeed."
He added that there was "no real confidence that government policies are working". THE BBC