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North-South split opening on jobs

Job prospects in parts of the UK are looking "increasingly bleak", with evidence of a return to the North-South divide, according to a new report.

A recovery in employment in recent months has "stalled" even though the outlook remains moderately positive, said recruitment firm Manpower.

The national employment outlook has slipped for the first time in almost three years, with recent setbacks hitting the finance and business services sectors, said the report.

A survey of 2,100 UK employers about whether they intended to hire additional workers in the coming months revealed that prospects in many parts of the North were looking increasingly bleak.

Manpower managing director Mark Cahill said: "Six months ago it looked like the banks were going to lead the way out of recession and could even have filled the hole created by the slowdown in the public sector. The finance sector was hiring like nobody's business, it was consistently the most optimistic sector post-recession but this has now fallen away quite dramatically over the summer.

"We've seen almost 50,000 jobs go in banking. Make no mistake, there are still jobs to be had in areas like retail banking, but in other areas of banking there has been a real pull back and this is having an impact on the jobs market as a whole."

Utilities was the most positive sector, with employers in the water, gas and electricity industries reporting strong hiring intentions.

Manpower said the UK could be sliced in half when it comes to hiring intentions with a line running from the Humber in the North East to the Bristol Channel in the South West - above the line, employees are predicting negative hiring intentions, but below that line, firms were broadly positive.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: "We always said that the recovery would be choppy. We do not underestimate the scale of the challenge that we face to help people into employment.

"The Government is committed to support the economy and encourage businesses to invest and create jobs. The new Work Programme is now up and running and will offer jobseekers flexible support tailored to their needs to help them into employment."

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