Unemployment could be as high as 6.3 million in the UK if a different counting measure was used, highlighting the true scale of joblessness, according to a new report.
The TUC said the higher figure - more than twice the official total - was revealed using an American measure, which includes people in part-time jobs because they cannot find full-time work and recent redundancies.
The jobless total increased to 2.68 million last month and is expected to rise again when new figures are published by the Office for National Statistics on Wednesday. However the TUC study suggested the actual number of unemployed people in the UK could be 6.3 million, the most since the early 1990s.
Under-employment, which counts those doing temporary or part-time jobs because they cannot find permanent, full-time work, has risen to a record 1.9 million, it said. The TUC said temporary jobs were better than unemployment, but tended to be low paid, insecure and offered little or no career prospects.
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "The headline unemployment figures are bad enough, but the true scale of joblessness is even worse. Over six million people are either out of work or under-employed. Tackling this crisis should be the Government's number one priority.
"Our jobs crisis is not confined to those out of work. Nearly two million people are being forced to take low-paid, insecure, short hours jobs because of the lack of proper full-time employment. This means people are taking home much less pay, which is putting a real strain on family budgets.
"When ministers say there are plenty of jobs out there, they are ignoring the sheer numbers of people looking for work, as well as the suitability and location of the jobs available. Rather than seek to blame unemployed people for being out of work, the Government should start helping them by putting proper resources into employment schemes."
The report followed a study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development which showed that job prospects are set to worsen in the coming months as firms make workers redundant. A survey of 1,000 employers also revealed a further widening of a North-South divide in the jobs market.
A Department for Work and Pensions spokeswoman said: "Tackling unemployment is a priority for ministers, which was why the Government acted quickly to replace the numerous failing back to work schemes with the Work Programme."
Shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne said: "This analysis shows the true scale of our country's unemployment emergency, yet still complacent ministers are failing to act."
- Safest jobs in Britain: IT
- Safest jobs in Britain: Pharmaceuticals
- 3. PPI scam
<span style="font-size: 10pt; line-height: 12pt;">As if the mis-selling of payment protection insurance (PPI) wasn't scandal enough, 2012 has seen fraudsters preying on PPI victims. Consumers have received phone calls from someone who knows their name, announcing that they have won their PPI claim. The caller may also know the lender's name and an estimate of the loan amount.</span></p>
<span style="font-size: 10pt; line-height: 12pt;">However, the caller will then request a payment from the consumer in order to receive their compensation. This should signal warning bells, but many innocent victims have fallen for the scam and parted with money only for the bogus firm to disappear with their cash, and of course the compensation that never existed.</span></p>
Consumers should be wary of all cold calls, particularly those that request cash upfront. There is no need to pay to make a claim for mis-sold PPI – you can claim direct to your bank for free and receive free advice from debt charities like Citizens Advice and the Consumer Credit Counselling Service.</p>
<span style="font-size: 10pt; line-height: 12pt;">If you do choose to take on the assistance of a claims management firm – never agree to an upfront payment. Reputable firms will only request payment for their services once you have received your compensation from your lender either by cheque or by payment into your bank account.</span></p>
- Safest jobs in Britain: Senior Finance
- Safest jobs in Britain: Accountancy
- Safest jobs in Britain: Banking
- Safest jobs in Britain: HR
- Safest jobs in Britain: Legal
- Safest jobs in Britain: Social housing
- Safest jobs in Britain: Education