The Labour Force Survey, published quarterly for the first time by the Government, counts 2.65 million people unemployed in the spring.
That is 40,000 higher than the Employment Department's monthly reckoning of 2.61 million for March, April and May.
The Government views the unemployed on a 'claimant' basis, counting people eligible to claim unemployment benefit. But the international measure defines the unemployed as anyone looking for work.
The Employment Policy Institute, which is an independent body reviewing employment measures, says that an expanded Labour Force Survey would show unemployment at around 300,000 higher than the figure just published, and more than 500,000 higher than the count used by the Employment Department.
'It is likely that such an expanded measure will be approaching 3.5 million by the end of 1992,' it says.
It adds that it is unfair to accuse the Government of fiddling figures, but says there will always be the suspicion that changes to the monthly unemployment count are partly political.