The outlook for UK employees remains bleak after a job market survey has revealed hiring expectations for 2012 are at lowest levels since the recession began.
Eight in 10 employers are not looking to hire in the next quarter, according to job website Manpower.
Recruitment is at its lowest level since the first quarter of 2009 and the 2012 jobs market "sits on a knife edge," according to Mark Cahill, UK managing director of Manpower.
"We hear stories about companies hoarding cash and not investing. In the same way, we see a number of business sectors battening down the hatches, holding onto existing levels of staff and not hiring with great enthusiasm," says Cahill.
He says employers are now adopting a "wait-and-see approach to hiring".
The survey, which questioned 2,100 UK employers, also reveals an east/west split across the country. "It's almost as if someone has sliced England in half with employers in the east currently much more optimistic about hiring than those in the west," says Cahill.
Despite parts of the North East currently having the highest unemployment levels, the region is the most optimistic, according to Manpower's survey.
The utility sector is one of the best for creating new job opportunities, while the finance and business services sector is currently the worst.