Unemployment fell by 9,000 to 2.45 million in the three months to September 2010, data from the Office of National Statistics shows.
But the number of people unemployed for up to six months increased by 21,000 on the quarter to reach 1.18 million.
A total of 7.7% were unemployed in the quarter, down by 0.1% on the previous three months.
Male unemployment fell by 40,000 on the quarter to reach 1.43 million but the number of unemployed women increased by 31,000 on the quarter to reach 1.02 million, the highest figure since 1988.
The number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, the claimant count, fell by 3,700 between September and October 2010 to reach 1.47 million, although the number of people claiming for up to six months increased by 10,400 to reach 943,900.
The number of male claimants fell by 5,400 on the month to reach 1.03 million but the number of female claimants increased by 1,700 to reach 431,400.
The inactivity rate for those aged from 16 to 64 for the three months to September 2010 was 23.2% down 0.2% on the quarter.
The number of inactive people aged from 16 to 64 fell by 83,000 over the quarter to reach 9.27 million.
Most categories of economic inactivity fell over the quarter.
The category showing the largest fall over the quarter was those looking after the family or home, which fell by 35,000 to reach 2.28 million, the lowest figure since comparable records began in 1993.
The number of vacancies for the three months to October 2010 was 453,000, down 27,000 over the quarter.
The sector showing the largest quarterly fall was education where the number of vacancies fell by 10,000 to reach 31,000.