The UK’s jobless rate climbed to 5.1% in the three months to December, figures from the Office for National Statistics have shown.
The rate is the highest for almost five years.
The figures show 726,000 fewer people are currently in payrolled employment than before the start of the pandemic.
BBC NEWS reports that almost three-fifths of this fall, 425,000, were younger than 25 years.
The ONS said 1.74 million people were unemployed in the October to December period, up 454,000 from the same quarter in 2019.
However, the UK’s statistics body said that there were some “tentative early signs” of the labour market stabilising. There was a small increase in the numbers of employees paid through payroll over the past couple of months.
In January 2021, 83,000 more people were in payrolled employment when compared with the previous month.
The UK’s average pay, including bonuses, rose by 4.7% in the three months to December from the previous year.
But statisticians said this was partly because of the disproportionate fall in the number of young, typically lower-paid workers. Adjusting for this, the ONS said underlying wage growth was “likely to be under 3%.”
The Bank of England is forecasting that the unemployment rate will rise sharply, peaking at an estimated 7.8% later in the year.
Today’s labour market figures show that pay was up by an average of nearly 5% compared with a year ago – a much bigger pay rise than has been typical for most of the past decade.