The claimant count soared by 75,700 in November, the biggest monthly increase since the spring of 1991, taking the total to 1.07 million.
The overall number of unemployed people, including those not eligible for benefits, increased by 137,000 in the quarter to October to 1.86 million, the highest figure for more than a decade.
The grim figures were compounded by a big fall in job vacancies, down by 49,000 in the last three months to 562,000, the joint lowest on record.
The claimant count rate is now 3.3%, up by 0.2% from October and by 0.8% over the year, while the total unemployment rate is 6%, up by 0.7% from 12 months ago.
Long-term unemployment, covering those out of work for more than a year, increased by 7,000 to 438,000 in the latest quarter, while unemployment among 18 to 24-year-olds rose by 55,000 to 597,000, the highest figure since 1995.
Manufacturing jobs continued to be lost, down by 73,000 in the three months to October compared with a year ago to 2.83 million, the lowest figure since comparable records began in 1978.
Today's data from the Office for National Statistics also showed a fall in the number of people in work, down by 115,000 in the quarter to October to 29.38 million.
The claimant count has now increased for 10 months in a row, the worst sequence since a run of 16 monthly rises from March 2005.
Average earnings increased by 3.3% in the year to October, unchanged from the previous month.
Around 180,000 people were made redundant in the three months to October, an increase of 41,000 on the previous quarter and 49,000 over the year.