As unemployment shoots up another 128,000 to a rate of 8.3 per cent - its highest level in 15 years - we are heading into a "gloomy" 2012, according to a City expert.

Statistics published today show the unemployment rate at its highest since 1996.

There are now 2.64 million unemployed people in Britain, with a total of 9.33 million economically inactive people in the country.

Growth is stalling and there are chances of another recession in the first half of 2012, as inflation sits just under 5 per cent.

Cutbacks to the welfare system will also add to the problems of Britain's unemployed.

"There has obviously been an unwelcome increase in unemployment since the summer, but these latest figures show some signs that the labour market is stabilising," insisted the government's Minister for Employment, Chris Grayling.

Richard Driver, a currency analyst at Caxton FX, said that while today's overall unemployment figures are "better than expected" it "doesn't change the picture at all".

Prospects aren't looking good for next year either because of low growth.

"We're betting on a worsening," he said, adding that 2012 is looking like it will be "gloomy".

"It's clear that we're reaching a crossroads in what appears to be a dual economy in the UK job market," said Clive Davis, director of recruitment consultants Robert Half UK.  

"As today's ONS figures have shown, moderate gains in the private sector have not offset losses in the public sector, primarily in public administration and education.

"We're still seeing demand for specialist roles in finance and IT and believe that these sectors will remain liquid over the coming months."