The UK’s unemployment figures increased to a 16-year high yesterday after another rise in the jobless total.

UK unemployment rose by 48,000 to 2.67 million in the three months to December, official figures showed. Women made up two-thirds of that increase and there was a new record in the number of people working part-time who want full-time jobs.

According to the Office for National Statistics, the unemployment rate edged up to 8.4%, the highest for 16 years.

The number of 16- to 24-year-olds without a job rose 22,000 to 1.04m, taking the unemployment rate in that age group to 22.2%. This figure also includes young people in full-time education who are also looking for work.

Minister for Welfare Reform Lord Freud said: “The latest figures show some encouraging signs of stability, despite the challenging economic climate.With more people in employment and a rise in vacancies, it is clear the private sector is still creating jobs.

“However, we are not complacent. With more people in the labour market, we know that competition for those jobs is tough and we will continue to make it our priority to find people work.”

The jobless figures were released on the same day as the Governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, predicted the UK economy would zig-zag in 2012.