Permanent and temporary appointments declined at their sharpest rates since July 2009 according to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and KPMG Report on Jobs – published today.

Permanent placements fell for the first time in six months during June, finds the report, while temporary / contract staff billings were down for the seventh month running, with the rate of decline accelerating to the fastest since July 2009.

Overall demand for staff showed the weakest increase for five months in June while recruitment consultancies indicated higher levels of both permanent and temporary staff availability during June, with the latter recording the stronger growth.

Recruitment and Employment Confederation Chief Executive, Kevin Green, said:

“The sharp drop in the number of people placed into work last month is really disappointing. A decrease in hiring activity means we could see a period of increased unemployment, especially as a new wave of school leavers and graduates will be entering the labour market over the summer.

“The UK labour market has been remarkably resilient throughout the downturn and our slow economic recovery. However, employer confidence is fragile and it’s not that surprising that under the weight of the eurozone crisis and other bad news placements fell in June.

“I expect as we continue to make slow progress out of recession that we’ll see this kind of a zig-zag pattern with some good months followed by weaker ones – rather than sustained periods of uninterrupted jobs growth.”

Bernard Brown, Partner and Head of Business Services at KPMG, added:

“A real worry for me is the acceleration in the pace of decline, which suggests this isn’t a mere blip. If this trend were to continue, there’s a very real chance we could hit a three million unemployed figure in the UK in the not too distant future.”