The UK has enjoyed a jobs "boom" despite the economic downturn and huge cutbacks in public spending, according to a new study.
A leading analyst said 2012 saw a "remarkable" increase in employment, although it was coupled with a fall in labour productivity and a squeeze on pay.
The Jobs Economist said 2012 was the best year for employment growth since 2000, with previous jobs booms taking place during periods of a strong economy.
Director Dr John Philpott said: "With the UK economy at risk of a triple dip recession, around 10,000 public sector jobs being shed each month and 2.5 million people unemployed, it sounds odd to suggest that we've just been through a jobs boom.
"Yet believe it or not, 2012 really was a year of extraordinarily strong employment growth. A jobs boom without economic growth is unprecedented in recent UK economic history.
"The downside of this truly remarkable occurrence is of course a fall in labour productivity and a continued real pay squeeze.
"Cheap labour might justifiably be deemed a price worth paying for jobs, but a jobs boom that doesn't deliver improved living standards is like nothing we've seen before in the UK and not necessarily a signal that the economy is heading in the right direction."
The report was published ahead of the latest unemployment figures, which ministers hope will show a continued fall in the jobless total.
Last month's data showed a 14,000 fall in unemployment to 2.5 million, while 1.54 million people were claiming jobseeker's allowance.