Labour market 'on road to recovery'
The labour market was on the "long road to recovery", with employers more likely to hire staff, a survey has revealed.
However, many workers felt more negative about their job prospects for 2010, according to new research.
Employment firm Manpower said a study of 2,100 employers showed the most positive hiring intentions for over a year.
Managing director Mark Cahill said a glimmer of hope emerging in the summer had turned into an "encouraging spark", adding: "The deeply troubled finance and business services sector of a year ago, which now has the most positive hiring intentions of any industry sector in the UK, is testament to this turnaround in hiring sentiment.
"While there is still some way to go before the UK makes a full recovery, it is encouraging to see this key sector return to growth."
Manpower said it believed unemployment was now "very unlikely" to reach three million, adding that employers in the South West were most positive, while those in Wales were least optimistic.
A separate report by Lloyds also showed increased optimism among UK businesses, boosting the prospect of a return to economic growth next year. A survey of 200 companies showed firms in the South were most upbeat about their prospects.
Trevor Williams, chief economist at Lloyds TSB Corporate Markets said: "There is no escaping the fact that business confidence is still very low in relative terms. It is still some way below the long term average - a reminder that we should not expect a rapid recovery. Nevertheless, we shouldn't overlook the significance of the rising confidence levels."
There was less positive news in a survey of 2,000 workers by consultancy firm Croner which revealed that one in three felt more negative about their career and job prospects in 2010 than they did for this year.
Gillian Dowling of Croner said: "Employees have been through a lot this past year, many experiencing large scale redundancies for the first time, and a large number accepting variations to contractual terms, including reduced working hours and pay freezes, so it's not surprising many people are still feeling unsettled. Employers need to look for cost effective ways to keep staff motivated and engaged."