Unemployment is still surging but fewer people are claiming benefit, according to new figures.
The wider ILO comparison showed the number of people out of work increased by 108,000 in the last quarter of 2005 to 1.54 million, the highest total for four years.
The jobless rate rose by 0.3 per cent to 5.1 per cent, the highest for three years.
The West Midlands hit 139,000, up 16,000, 5.3 per cent while the East Midlands equivalent was 101,000, plus 4,000, 4.5 per cent.
On top of that a record 7.95 million people are now classed as economically inactive.
A big increase in the number of students not looking for work boosted the total, the highest figure since records began in 1971.
The figure includes people caring for relatives, taking early retirement and those who have given up looking for
work. The number of people claiming unemployment benefit dropped by 2,000 in January to 904,200, the first monthly fall for a year.
And December's claimant count rise was revised down to 4,300 from an originally reported 7,200.
The jobless rate held steady at 2.9 per cent.
Seasonally adjusted claimant count unemployment in the West Midlands last month was 101,800, down 100, 3.8 per cent of the workforce.
The unadjusted equivalent was 106,000, 6,300 ahead, 3.9 per cent.
In Birmingham the seasonally adjusted jobless total rose by 822 to 34,271 in January. The city's adjusted claimant rate rose 0.2 per cent to 8.6 per cent.
Nationally, the number of people in work fell by 57,000 in the three months to December to 28.7 million, an employment rate of 74.5 per cent - the lowest for almost four years.
Manufacturing jobs continued to be axed, down by 106,000 in the latest quarter compared to the previous year, to a record low of 3.09 million.
Fresh job cuts were announced in the industry yesterday when steel giant Corus said it planned to close one of its mills, with the loss of 155 jobs. The company said it could not rule out compulsory redundancies at the Brins-worth plant in Rotherham, South Yorkshire.
Unemployment among 18 to 24-year-olds increased by 37,000 to 468,000 from last autumn to the end of the year.
Long term unemployment also rose, up by 36,000 to 330,000.
The Office for National Statistics said there were 616,000 job vacancies across the UK in the three months to January, up by 12,100 from December but down by 34,000 from a year ago.
There were 15,000 working days lost through industrial disputes in December, taking the yearly total to 156,000, the lowest since records began in 1891.
Employment Minister Margaret Hodge said the figures reflected a "mixed picture" on the jobs front in recent months.
The increase in unemployment showed the continued need to be "vigilant".
She added: "This month's small fall in claimant unemployment is welcome, particularly as latest figures also show continuing reduction in the numbers claiming lone parent and incapacity benefits.
"Our recent welfare reform green paper sets out the further steps we will take to tackle worklessness, building on the success that has seen the overall numbers claiming out-of-work benefits down by around one million in the last eight years."
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "The number of people in employment and the employment rate have come down, the number who are unemployed has risen substantially, and the unemployment rate has risen as well.
"There has been a substantial increase in long-term unemployment and youth unemployment.
"With inflation down below the two per cent target, the employment and inflation figures both show that the Bank of England should cut interest rates, and soon. The worrying growth in youth unemployment also suggests the need for extra investment in the New Deal."
Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Philip Hammond said: "Gordon Brown claimed he would not be satisfied until he had removed the scar of long-term unemployment from the face of Britain.
"For all Labour's claims it is not clear from these figures that the New deal for Young People is delivering - neither jobs for young people nor value for money for the British taxpayer."