Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have revealed that the number of jobless households in the UK has soared to its worst level since 1997.
The household rate surged from 1.1% to 16.9% - the highest since 1999 and the largest year-on-year increase since 1997.
A workless household is defined as a home which includes at least one person of working age, where nobody aged 16 or over is in employment.
Consequently, the figures exclude pensioner households and student houses.
The total number of working-age people in workless households soared to almost 5 million in April to June 2009 - up half a million compared with a year ago.
According to the ONS, the situation is worse in the north-east of England, while the lowest rate is in the eastern region of England.
Commenting on the figures, John Atkinson, associate director at the Institute for Employment Studies, said: “The distribution of unemployment among households has the effect of concentrating the negative consequences of worklessness among families where no family member works.”
“Eighteen months ago, worklessness was in decline. Government programmes encouraging lone parents and the long-term sick back into employment were a part of that success story. Today we can see that the recession is unravelling much of that progress.”
“The concentration of worklessness among families has serious consequences for the children within them, and this cuts directly across government policy on child poverty,” added Mr Atkinson.