Employment will not return to pre-recession levels for 14 years and could take longer in some parts of the country hardest hit by Government spending cuts, according to new research today.
The TUC said if private firms continued to create jobs at the same rate as over the past decade, it will take more than 20 years in some regions to make up for work lost in the recession.
More than 1.3m private sector jobs have been lost since official figures for workplace jobs peaked at 31m in 2008, the study found.
Around 2.2m jobs will have to be created to get the labour market back to pre-recession levels, which could take up to 14 years, but much longer in areas such as Yorkshire and the Humber and the North West, said the TUC.
Mining and quarrying have lost the most jobs since 2008, losing 15% of its workforce, followed by manufacturing (down 12%), construction (11%) and retail (7%), the analysis showed.
The loss of jobs would have been even greater but for increases in staff in the NHS, social care and education, although the TUC warned that public spending cuts due to be announced by the Government next month will lead to "heavy" job losses.
The number of workforce jobs could fall below 30m for the first time since 2003, warned the TUC ahead of its annual congress in Manchester on Monday.
Meanwhile, Business Secretary Vince Cable has warned unions not to talk themselves into a "winter of discontent" with threats of industrial action over impending public sector cuts.
Mr Cable insisted that the Government was not seeking confrontation with the unions.
Looking ahead to the TUC conference, which is expected to see loud opposition to George Osborne's cuts programme, Mr Cable cautioned unions that the public would have little patience for talk of strike action.
And he made clear that he did not believe union bosses wanted a repeat of the clashes with Government seen in 1978/79, when bodies went unburied and rubbish piled up in the streets, paving the way for the anti-union legislation of Margaret Thatcher.
Mr Cable said the militant rhetoric of RMT general- secretary Bob Crow was an "embarrassment" to his colleagues in the union movement.