After a week that saw thousands of jobs lost on the high street, figures from the IT recruiter SThree suggest that sentiment is not much better in offices.
The jobs group said that its profit from permanent jobs in the UK business dropped by 12 per cent in the first quarter. That left SThree's total profit down 3 per cent at £45.5m in the first three months of the year.
The recruiter did manage to cash in on more temporary jobs – that division saw gross profit increase by 6 per cent to £24.5m in the quarter. SThree added that the figure would have been higher but for the impact of New Year's Day in 2013 falling later in the working week than it did the year before, which meant "substantially more contractor holiday days were taken year on year".
But that wasn't enough to offset the decline in permanent hires.
The figures come days after Thomas Cook axed 2,500 jobs, while business collapses at Dreams bed store and Axminster carpets saw hundreds more lost.
The shares slipped 3.5p to 363.75p.