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US companies' expectations for hiring staff are at their lowest since the recession of 1982, a new survey says.
The Manpower employment survey found that more US employers plan to get rid of staff than those that plan to hire staff in the second quarter of 2009.
It also found worsening employment markets across the world, with labour market conditions in Asia deteriorating at a "surprisingly rapid rate".
But job prospects in India improved compared with the first quarter.
The Manpower index measures the difference between employers that plan to add jobs and those that plan to cut them.
The seasonally adjusted index for the US fell to minus 1 for the second quarter, compared with plus 10 for the first quarter of this year and plus 15 for the same quarter last year.
"Hiring patterns in the US have declined to those seen during the recession of 1982," said Jeffrey Joerres, boss of Manpower.
More US workers lost jobs last year than in any year since World War II, with employers axing 2.6 million posts.
The US jobless rate rose to 8.1% in February, the highest in 16 years.
But few countries were immune from the worsening job outlook.
"Hiring forecasts from all the G7 countries are notably weaker compared with 12 months ago, confirming that the global labour market will continue to contract," said Mr Joerres.
"Only outlooks from employers in Canada and Germany have not slipped into negative territory," he added.
In Europe, the countries with the worst labour market outlook were Ireland (-14), Spain (-9), the UK (-6) and Italy (-5).
The Manpower Employment Outlook survey covers 72,000 employers across the world.