Many employers are waiting for an upturn in the economy before taking on new staff, according to a report today.
A survey of 600 firms by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation also discovered continuing problems hiring suitably qualified workers because of the UK's skills "dislocation".
A "marked dip" on short-term job prospects was revealed in the study, although a significant number of businesses planned to increase or maintain staffing levels in the short and medium term.
Roger Tweedy, the confederation's director of research said: "Last November's figures showed that many employers were hoping to slightly increase their permanent workforces early in the new year.
"However, there has been a significant dip in employer optimism that is likely to be linked to continuing economic concerns over the sovereign debt crisis in the eurozone.
"Most employers have retrenched to a much more cautious wait and see approach."