By Marcus Leach

On the day that Chancellor Osborne is set to announce the 2013 Budget there was a setback in unemployment as official figures show a 7,000 increase in unemployment.

Between November and January the official unemployment rate grew to 2.52 million.

The number of people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance last month fell by 1,500 to 1.54 million, says the Office for National Statistics.

“Following the downgrade and recent poor manufacturing figures, this was the news the Chancellor didn’t need ahead of the today’s Budget," John Salt, director at, said.

"The series of poor economic indicators is now obviously hitting confidence with predictable effect and we’ll have to see what’s in George’s red box that might make companies more willing to invest in job creation, rather than only hanging onto staff which has been the trend of late.”

Adam Riccoboni, director of MBA & Company, the global marketplace for freelance management consultancy and research work, said: "Once again the employment numbers have fiercely defended their status as Britain's most baffling economic puzzle.

"Both employment and unemployment have risen, but the greater anomaly is the way the jobs market seems so wildly out of step with the stagnant economy.

"New jobs are being created at a steady rate, even if the nature of the jobs market is changing.

"As employers seek greater flexibility, the demand for highly skilled professionals able to fulfil short-term projects is growing.

"There are now more than 4 million self-employed people in Britain, and those with in-demand skills are reaping the rewards from businesses' brittle level of confidence.

"Business leaders may still be reluctant to hire full-time staff, but the appeal of capable professionals who are willing to take on one-off projects continues to rise."

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