Unions voiced concerns at rising numbers of jobless just as the Government insisted they never had it so good.
The GMB union said four regions - the South-east, East, London and East Midlands - accounted for 90 per cent of the growth in unemployment over six years.
Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB said: "These figures bear out what our members have been telling us, it is much more difficult to find a job in certain regions. The Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee needs to put avoiding a slowdown in the economy as top priority."
TUC deputy general secretary Frances O'Grady, said: "More people may be in work, but rising unemployment and further losses in manufacturing continue to cause concern.
"If UK manufacturing is to turn fortunes around, long term measures are essential. More importantly, when the Bank of England meets next month, it must resist the temptation to increase interest rates."
And Amicus general secretary Derek Simpson said: "Unfortunately these figures bear out the experience of members, particularly those in manufacturing, who have lost jobs hand over fist.
"The Government's arguments about the number of jobs being created just doesn't wash when unemployment is rising and newer jobs are insecure, part-time and casual. This just doesn't impact on members, it has serious implications for the economy."
But Employment Minister Jim Murphy said: "Twenty years ago claimant unemployment hit a post-war high. Since then employment is up by four million to a new record and claimant unemployment down from over three million to less than one.
"Because of the New Deal and the end of boom and bust, there are now fewer claimant unemployed than there were long-term unemployed 20 years ago, and youth long-term claimant unemployment is a thing of the past. The UK is now internationally recognised as a world leader in employment and welfare reform."
Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist at analysts Global Insight, said: "The unemployment data continue to show employment and unemployment rising as the recently improved growth in the economy is not generating enough jobs to meet the expanding labour force."
Dr John Philpott, chief economist at the Chartered institute of Personnel and Development, said: "The demand for labour is starting to pick up after the hiatus last year. According to these figures not only are there more people in employment but all the new jobs are full-time.
"The number of temporary employees and self-employed has fallen suggesting employers are becoming confident enough to recruit permanent staff rather than contract workers. The rise in full-time work has benefited men, the number of women in work remaining stable."
Patrick Grattan, chief executive of the Age and Employment Network, said: "It is good news people aged over 50 account for 80 per cent of the increase in employment.
"What we are seeing is more employers adapting to changing demographics, labour market shortages and forthcoming age discrimination regulations. Meanwhile individuals are responding to increasing longevity, lack of income for retirement and the desire to go on working.
"But there are still a million plus people aged over 50 who are not working who would like to be, and many more who may be working, but whose skills, experience and abilities are seriously under-utilised."
Sir Andrew Green, chairman of think tank Migration-watch, said: "The increase in both employment and unemployment points unmistakably to the impact of immigration.
"With unemployment up by a quarter of a million in a year it is time to review the present massive scale of immigration."