Britain's unemployment rate is at its highest level for 17 years with women and young people worst hit by job cuts.

Data from the Office for National Statistics published Wednesday says 2.64 million people were unemployed in Britain at the end of October — 128,000 more than in the previous quarter and the highest level since 1994.

Unemployment among 16 to 24 year olds increased by 54,000 to 1.03 million — the highest level since records of youth employment began in 1992.

Women's unemployment increased by 45,000 to 1.1 million, the highest since 1988.