Image copyright Reuters Image caption Unemployment is at 4.2% and rising
More than 100,000 fewer people were in work in February than in January, official figures show.
Economists had expected the total number of people in work to rise by 230,000, following strong figures in January.
The number of full-time jobs fell by 28,000 and part-time employment increased by 40,000.
However, there were signs that more people are working part-time because they can’t find full-time work.
The figure is almost double the jump in part-time work that was recorded in January.
Economists said the figures were “disturbing” given how few extra people were being added to the workforce.
“Worryingly, we are on the cusp of a gradual rise in the part-time workforce (in Britain) that has not been seen since the early 1990s,” said Michael Saunders, economist at JP Morgan.
“This should not be ignored,” he added.
Image copyright Reuters Image caption In January, unemployment went up for the first time in over four years
The figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) confirm the UK has not recovered from the financial crisis that started in 2008.
In the recession, the number of people in work halved. It has since risen back to record levels, but there are still way below pre-crisis levels.
In January alone, the number of people in work fell by 106,000 to 32.66 million, representing a net gain of just 210,000 for the year.
In a speech last month, chancellor Philip Hammond said the UK economy had “turned a corner”.
“We are now seeing a sustained increase in employment, record earnings growth and the lowest unemployment in 42 years.
“I’m confident that the British economy is now healing.”