Demand for staff has fallen at its sharpest rate in 11 years in the past month, according to a closely watched employment survey, which suggests the pace of credit crunch-related job losses is speeding up.

The survey of recruitment agencies, published by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation and consultant KPMG, showed the fastest fall in demand for jobs since the survey began in 1997. The slide was particularly quick for permanent staff, especially in financial, accounting and bluecollar jobs.

John Philpott, chief economist at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said the figures marked the end of a “wait and see mode” among employers.

Since the collapse last month of Lehman Brothers, the investment bank, and other high-profile events, “there has been a sudden and sharp loss of confidence”, Philpott said.

Financial Times