Unemployment figures released on Wednesday showed a rise of 88,000 to 2.47 million in the three months to August.
Barking in east London is among the places badly affected. The number of adults out of work jumped from 3.6% in August 2008 to 5.8% in August 2009. There are now a total of 5,966 people jobless in the area.
But who are they and how tough are they finding it?
THE ESTATE AGENT - RICHARD FOLAUI, 52
Mr Folaui has encountered a number of ex-employees during his job hunt
Last December, Mr Folaui was forced to close the estate agents he had run in Stratford for eight years, due to financial problems caused by the downturn. He has been visiting the job centre and signing on ever since.
"I thought I'd got a job with Royal Mail, but because of the strikes I did two days and then they said 'that's it'," he says.
"It's difficult but I'll get there. I'll take any job. I'll look for anything, just anything. You can't be choosy in this climate. It's very difficult everywhere for everyone.
"It's changed over the course of the year, because before you would get two or three people ready to take on a role, but now that's more like 10 or 20."
He has four children and says when you have responsibilities you have to be prepared to do anything. Luckily, his ex-wife is working and can support their children, including one who is at university studying law.
In addition to his visits to the job centre, Mr Folaui spends a lot of time looking for work on the internet and approaching agencies directly.
He says it feels "very strange" when he reflects that he was self-employed this time last year.
"When I went to Royal Mail I met one of my former employees, who was like 'what are you doing here?'." But that's the way things go. It doesn't bother me, that's life."
THE FORKLIFT TRUCK DRIVER - MARK POWLING, 39
Mr Powling says the boredom is very difficult to take
Mr Powling lost his job as a forklift truck driver in January and has been looking for driving or factory work ever since.
"It's hard at the moment, a lot harder, as there are so many people looking for jobs now," he says.
"I'm a bit down as I can't find work. A lot of it's the boredom. I've got four kids to feed, so I'm finding it quite hard."
He fills his days by visiting the library where he uses the internet to look and apply for jobs with agencies. Last year, he worked for an agency through which he was given a number of different jobs.
"You apply for jobs but none of them get back to you. I don't know if it's the recession but I am finding it a lot harder," he said.
THE STUDENT - STEPHANIE FREMPONG, 19
Ms Frempong has approached most of the high street chains for work
After a year at Reading University studying computer science, Ms Frempong decided to take a year out as she found student life too expensive to survive.
She plans to restart her degree closer to home next September and is looking for a job to help her gather some savings in the meantime.
"It's hard, a lot of people want qualifications. I'm finding it more difficult than the last time I was looking for work, with the recession. Then I found it quite easy.
"I'm mostly looking for a role in retail, I've tried the big supermarkets. I've worked in catering, but I found waitressing more challenging than retail," she says.
The job centre had given her some leads but she is also approaching agencies in her bid to find work.
"I'm not very hopeful. I'm running out of time to get a job in time for the Christmas period."
Ms Frempong lives with her parents who help to support her. She currently receives £50 Jobseeker's Allowance a fortnight, which she says she mainly spends on travel.
THE HOUSE HUSBAND - FRED WRIGHT, 60
Mr Wright runs the house and cooks for his wife who works full-time
A building supervisor until he was made redundant 18 months ago, Mr Wright is now looking for driving or warehouse work.
"There aren't many jobs in there at the moment and there are so many people going in and out. The youngsters seem to get a better pick than us oldies," he says.
He spends a couple of hours each morning on the internet, and visits the library once a week to look for jobs in the pages of the local papers.
Thankfully, his wife works and his 22-year-old son works, which means the family has enough money to get by.
"As the benefits are means-tested, I only get my stamp paid and after that, nothing. As luck would have it, we'd put some money away for when we retired, so we have savings to fall back on. I'm 60 now, so only have five years to go, really."
Mr Wright keeps himself busy while he's out of work, walking their dog and looking after the home. "I'm a househusband now. I'd give that Antony Worrall Thompson a run for his money."
His main gripe is with firms that don't bother to notify applicants if they're unsuccessful.
"They don't bother to ring you, you get no feedback, no nothing," he says.
THE SOUND ASSISTANT - JAMES CHRISTMAS, 20
Mr Christmas lives with his mum, but pays her rent
Mr Christmas was paying his first visit to the job centre. A trained sound assistant, he had just finished a contract working on a children's TV programme.
"I'll take anything until I can find another sound job. When I'm working on a job I'm making contacts with other people in the industry, so I'll contact the people I've met.
"It's hard because I haven't been in the industry for long and I'm still learning."
He had not seen anything in the job centre which suited him on that visit, the roles including nursery assistants, care workers and lorry drivers.
"I'm not feeling too good to be honest, I don't like being out of work. But I'm getting by, I have family support, which helps.
"I'm hoping I won't have time to come back here because I'll get another sound job. I don't like it."