The number of unemployed people in the UK rose by 44,000 to 2.49 million in the last quarter of 2010, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said on Wednesday.

The unemployment rate in Britain stood at 7.9 percent in October-December period, up 0.1 percent compared with the previous quarter.

The unemployment rate for those aged from 16 to 24 increased 1.5 percent to 20.5 per cent, the highest figure since comparable records began in 1992, ONS said.

Besides, the number of people seeking jobless claims rose unexpectedly by 2,400 to 1.46 million in January.

Economists had expected jobseekers’ allowance count to be reduced by 3,300 in January.

Many economists expect the unemployment rate to rise later this year when government austerity measures take effect.

In its emergency budget in June 2010, the coalition government proposed fiscal consolidation amounting to £113 billion ($179 billion) per annum by 2014-2015, aimed at cutting 500,000 public sector jobs among other measures.

Besides, the number of people in employment fell by 68,000 to 29.12 million for the three months ending December. The employment rate decreased to 70.5 percent, down 0.3 percent.

The UK's unemployment rate is expected to peak this year and will remain stubbornly high during 2012, according to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

CBI estimates that the unemployment rate in Britain will reach 8.4 percent in 2011, up from 7.9 percent last year and that it will remain unchanged in 2012.

CBI expects the UK economy’s growth to slow to 1.8 percent in 2011 compared with already sluggish 2 percent growth last year.