Using the American U6 measure of unemployment - which includes unemployed, discouraged, marginally attached and under-employed workers - would mean unemployment in the UK standing at 6.3 million, higher than any point since the early 1990s, according to a new TUC analysis published today (Tuesday).
While the UK has two common measures of joblessness - ILO unemployment (currently 2.68 million) and the claimant count (1.6 million) - the US uses six measures of joblessness that incorporate long-term unemployment, recent job losses, redundancies and under-employment, such as working part-time because full-time work isn't available.
Using official UK government data, the TUC has replicated the six measures of US unemployment and found that using the broadest measure of joblessness, U6 or 'total' unemployment in the UK is currently over 6.3 million - the highest it has been since records began in April 1993, when it was 6.1 million.
While ILO unemployment was higher in the early 1990s (peaking at 3.02 million in January 1993) than today, under-employment - people working part-time because they can't find full time jobs - is higher today (1.3 million) than at any point since April 1993, when it stood at 802,000.
The number of economically inactive or discouraged people who want work in the UK is broadly the same today (2.34 million) as it was in April 1993 (2.35 million) having peaked at 2.59 million in December 1996.
The analysis also shows that under-employment - people doing temporary or part-time jobs because they can't find permanent or full-time work - has risen to a record 1.9 million.
The record levels of under-employment today show that our jobs crisis is far worse that the headline figures suggest, says the TUC.
While involuntary part-time and temporary jobs are better than no work at all in most cases, these tend to be low-paid, insecure, have little or no career prospects and so not a sustainable way to solve the UK's labour market problems, says the TUC.
The TUC is calling on the government to acknowledge the scale of the jobs crisis, rather than simply repeat the ill-informed claim that there are plenty of jobs out there. It wants ministers to take action to get vital investment into the private sector so that it starts creating jobs, stop putting hundreds of thousands of public servants on the dole and boost job schemes to get younger people back into work.
The TUC believes that without government stimulus, growth will continue to falter which will cause long-term damage to the UK economy.
Midlands TUC Regional Secretary Rob Johnston 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 of 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.
"Unless we get people back into decent jobs and wages growing in line with prices again we will not secure a sustainable economic recovery nor get the deficit down."