The UK's employment outlook is the weakest for 15 years, as companies continue to cut back on their recruitment plans, a report claims.
The report says the financial services sector has been particularly hit
Blaming concerns over the state of the economy, recruitment group Manpower said confidence had fallen across most regions and economic sectors.
Its survey of 2,200 employers found that almost nine out of 10 had no current plans to take on new staff.
Manpower said the situation was worst in finance and business services firms.
It found that just 9% of all companies questioned said they expected to take on extra staff, while 3% planned to make redundancies.
"Employer hiring confidence continues to weaken with the balance of employers taking on new staff at a pace we have not seen in 15 years," said Manpower managing director Mark Cahill.
"Concerns about the strength and performance of the UK economy, coupled with recent worries about the stock market and consumer confidence, are having an impact - in particular in the finance and business services sector."
At the other end of the scale, Manpower said utilities firms and manufacturers were the most hopeful.
Companies in the east of England were the most optimistic, while those in the North West, East Midlands and South West were the least optimistic.
Chancellor Alistair Darling has already reduced his UK economic growth projections for 2008, and is widely expected to cut this still further in Wednesday's budget.