Two of Australia's main employment sectors — finance and retail — are showing heavy falls in the number of jobs in the three months to the end of November.

The finance sector, which includes insurance, posted the sharpest decline of 5.5 per cent, or 22,500 jobs, in the latest quarter.

The two sectors, which employ 380,000 people, have been rocked by lay-offs from local and international finance houses caused by the world credit crisis.

Several major banks have cut staff, and investment banks and stockbrokers, including Macquarie Group, are believed to have culled more than 500 local jobs.

The Age