In a troubling development for the government, unemployment has risen for the first time in six months even before the spending review measures begin to take effect.
Joblessness rose by 35,000 to 2.5 million over the three months leading up to October.
The coalition is counting on a rapid private sector recovery providing jobs in order to soak up mass redundancies from cutbacks in the public sector.
Today's figures, along with persistently above-target inflation of 3.3%, cast doubt on that optimism, but the government can take some heart from the fact that the number of people claiming jobseekers allowance has remained steady, even falling by a fraction.
But as public sector cuts which are estimated to result in 500,000 redundancies over the next four years begin to bite, that figure is likely to rise.