Unemployment is set to rise further this year and will remain high for the next 18 months, according to a new study.
The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) predicts an extra 100,000 people will be without a job before the end of the summer.
Unless the economy picks the think tank warns unemployment will not fall for around 18 months.
It says the North West, London, Yorkshire and the Humber region and the East of England will see the highest increases in joblessness.
However, the jobless total is expected to fall in the West Midlands, Northern Ireland and the South West.
The IPPR predicts 50,000 more men and a similar number of women will become unemployed this year as public sector jobs continue to be cut .
It estimates more than 40,000 of those hit will be under the age of 25.
IPPR senior research fellow Kayte Lawton said: "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.
"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."
Ms Lawton added: "Even within the context of the Government's deficit reduction plan, it is short-sighted not to do more to get people back into jobs."
The think tank's warning comes with unemployment standing at 2.67 million, or 8.4% of the working population, which is the highest level since 1995.
More than one million 16 to 24-year-olds are already out of work, with new figures later this month expected to show another rise.
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: "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.
"The international economic outlook remains difficult, but we will do everything we can to help the unemployed find jobs."