It’s the highest level since 1995 and follows data in June that suggested the jobless rate was dropping.
David Breger, partner, HW Fisher chartered accountants, says the figures show the recession is continuing to take its toll on the country’s SMEs, "businesses that have been left high and dry by the banks’ reluctance to lend".
He adds: "It must be particularly galling in the same week that Goldman Sachs, bailed out by the US government, announced better-than-expected profits.".
Alan Tomlinson, partner at UK insolvency practitioners Tomlinsons, notes: "This disturbing rise in the number of unemployed reflects the rise in the number of companies going under or struggling to survive. And they are going under by the day, primarily due to unmanageable debts racked up during the good years, drastic drops in turnover and the removal, or reduction, of credit facilities.
"There is also a feeling that real unemployment, or unemployment in the private sector, is higher than the figures reveal, but is being masked by the relative buoyancy of the public sector."