The Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed the unemployment rate reached 5% for the first time since early 2016 in the three months to November after another 202,000 people lost their jobs.
Figures for December also showed there were 828,000 fewer Britons on company payrolls since before the crisis struck last February as the pandemic has hammered the jobs market.
This comes despite Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s move to extend the furlough scheme until April.
ONS head of economic statistics Sam Beckett said: “In the three months to November, on our survey data, the employment rate fell sharply again, while the unemployment rate rose to hit 5% for the first time in over four years.
“The number of people saying they had been made redundant in the previous three months remains at a record high.
“Meanwhile, vacancies, which were rising in summer and early autumn, have been falling in the last couple of months.”