Vacancies in Northern Ireland's public sector have fallen by up to 70% as councils and schools tighten their belts ahead of today's spending review, a jobs website said today.
Totaljobs.com said jobs in education had fallen by over 50% in the third quarter of this year, and by nearly one third compared to the same period of last year.
Public sector jobs were down 70% since July.
The website said up to eight people on average applied for every available job in Northern Ireland during June to September - the highest number of applications per job over nearly two years - even though the number of jobs available had gone up by one third.
This rise has, however, been offset by the increased demand for jobs, with the total number of applications up 21% in the quarter.
The statistics come after September unemployment figures showed a rise of 500 in the number of people claiming unemployment benefits to 58,300.
Competition is most intense within sectors such as customer service as well as retail, peaking at an average of 34 and 23 applications per job respectively.
John Salt, director of totaljobs.com, said that those who have been out of work for some time are applying for more jobs. "As people apply for jobs in sectors they would not ordinarily consider, applications per job have risen."
The most obvious problem in the jobs market is in the public sector, he said. In the private sector, retail jobs increased 30% since June while graduate job vacancies remain virtually unchanged.