There is further evidence of a tough graduate jobs market with a survey showing vacancies down 13.5% on 2008.
Research among the top 100 employers identified by graduates shows that the only area with significant growth was the armed forces - up 11%.
As numbers of jobs have shrunk, firms have been getting more applicants for each - a third more than last year.
High Fliers Research, which carried out the survey, said employers had cut recruitment targets by 28%.
Employers have recruited 14,370 graduates to join their payrolls - against an original target of 19,951. Last year, there were 16,614 graduates recruited.
The market research company's report, The Graduate Market in 2009, said the greatest recruitment of graduates this year was in accountancy and the public sector.
Accountancy and the armed forces are also the least competitive fields to enter in terms of the number of people applying for each vacancy: 15 per training place in accountancy and just two for each place in the military.
The biggest competition is in investment banking, with 100 applicants chasing every position.
Half of the leading employers feel they are likely to be recruiting at similar levels in 2010.
High Fliers managing director Martin Birchall said: "With a record number of students graduating from UK universities this summer, these substantial cuts in graduate recruitment at Britain's best-known and most sought-after employers couldn't have come at a worse time.
"The 'Class of 2009' are facing one of the toughest job markets of the last two decades and there is now the very real prospect that tens of thousands of new graduates will be left unemployed after leaving university this year."
The government has acknowledged the scale of the problem, but said it was doing what it could to help graduates get jobs or enter into further study programmes.
A new Graduate Talent Pool scheme has been introduced to find internships for graduates, and ministers say they plan to make up to 45,000 professional and career development loans for further study by 2010.
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