Some 100,000 more people will be without a job before the end of the summer, according to a new report.
The IPPR think tank says unemployment may not peak until at least September, and that it could be 18 months before the UK jobless total falls.
North-west and Eastern England, London, and Yorkshire and Humberside will see the highest increases, it predicts.
But it adds that the West Midlands, Northern Ireland and South West will see a job recovery.
The left-leaning IPPR said it expected 50,000 more men and 50,000 women to become unemployed this year as public sector jobs continued to be cut.
It predicts that 40,000 of those becoming jobless will be under the age of 25.
"The personal tragedy of the slow economic recovery is the way unemployment will continue to rise over the next year, even once the economy begins to grow," said Kayte Lawton, senior research fellow at the think tank.
"This has been the longest recession and the slowest recovery that Britain has ever experienced.
"The risk is that high unemployment becomes a permanent feature of the UK economy, as it did in the 1980s."
The Department of Work and Pensions said that while "the international economic outlook remains difficult... we will do everything we can to help the unemployed find jobs".
"There have been some encouraging signs that the labour market is stabilising, but there is clearly still a big challenge ahead to bring down unemployment," a spokesman said.
New figures later this month are expected to show another increase in the figures.
The most recent data from the from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), showed that UK unemployment rose by 28,000 to 2.67 million during the three months to January, with the unemployment rate at 8.4%.
The number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance increased by 7,200 to 1.61 million in February.
The rise in unemployment was the lowest in almost a year. However, unemployment amongst women accounted for most of the increase.