The ONS says this is the highest figure since the three months to December 1994.
The unemployment rate for the three months to February was 8%, up 0.1% on the previous quarter.
Although the number of people unemployed for up to six months fell by 46,000 to 1.22 million, the number of those out of work for more than a year has increased by 89,000 over the quarter to reach 726,000.
The number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance dropped between February and March to reach 1.54 million.
Arek Ohanissian, economist at the Centre for Economics and Business Research, says: “Today’s labour market statistics are a mixed blessing for the economy.
“The second consecutive monthly fall in the claimant count suggests that it has now potentially turned the corner.
“However, the facts that employment has yet to rise and unemployment has risen to its highest level in over a decade point to continued weakness in the labour market.”