Labour MP Ian Lavery demanded today that Con-Dem ministers come clean about a conjuring trick which made 158,000 unemployed people vanish from the jobless figures.
Mr Lavery accused the government of "massaging" the figures after a minister confessed that all unemployed people who join government-sponsored training schemes are classified as "employed."
Cabinet Office Minister Nick Hurd also admitted that even jobless men and women undertaking unpaid work experience or training schemes were classified as "employed."
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) confirmed that 158,000 people on average were engaged on government-sponsored training and employment schemes in the three months up to August.
But a spokeswoman admitted: "We do not ask the question whether they are paid or unpaid."
Mr Lavery declared: "It is about time this stumbling, bungling government came clean over the true scale of unemployment, instead of manipulating the figures."
He said it was "absolutely outrageous" that people were doing unpaid work and there was no way that they should be marked down as in employment.
Mr Hurd published a statement from the ONS confirming that people "whose activity comprises any form of work, work experience or work-related training are classified as in employment."
In a written parliamentary response to a query from Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop, the ONS added that these people were classed as employed "regardless of whether the individual is paid or not."
Mr Blenkinsop pledged to table further questions to uncover the truth about the way the government is presenting jobless figures.
St Helens Labour MP Dave Watts protested to Cameron: "Young people's unemployment in my constituency has gone up by 1,000 per cent."
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