The Trades Union Congress has said that a double dip recession is looking more likely following "disappointing" unemployment figures yesterday.

The Office for National Statistics said yesterday that total unemployment fell by 34,000 to 2.47 million in the three months to May.

The number of people in employment rose by 160,000 in the period to 29 million, thanks mainly to an extra 148,000 taking on part time work. In total 7.82 million people are now working part time, the highest since 1992.

In June the number of people claiming unemployment benefits dropped by 20,888 to 1.46 million.

One area of special concern raised by the figures was long term unemployment, as it was revealed that the number of people unemployed for over year increased by 47.5 per cent to 787,000 in the quarter to May, many of whom are older workers.

Reacting to the news Brendan Barber, General Secretary of the TUC, said, "These are flat, disappointing figures and you need a magnifying glass to see much sign of recovery here.

"The falls in headline and youth unemployment are pretty small, but the rises in long term unemployment and involuntary part-time and temporary work show just how fragile the economy remains. There is still only one vacancy for every five jobless people.

"And because unemployment behind lags the rest of the economy we have yet to see any impact from the new Government's policies on the dole queue.

"When the cuts start to bite not only will jobs be lost from the public sector but across the private sector too. Many firms will lose public orders, and there will be an inevitable knock-on effect across the wider economy. A double-dip is beginning to look more likely every day."