Some 600,000 British workers will lose their jobs in 2009 and a million could go before the worst is over, according to a study yesterday giving the latest gloomy forecast on a deepening recession.
Around a million jobs may be lost in all before the economy starts to recover and the next three months will be the worst for job losses since 1991, warned the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).
"This time last year, in the face of some scepticism, the CIPD warned that 2008 would be the UK's worst year for jobs in a decade," said John Philpott, chief economist for the CIPD which represents managers and personnel staff.
"It was but in retrospect it will be seen as merely the slow motion prelude to what will be the worst year for jobs in almost two decades."
A series of high profile companies have gone bust in recent weeks, including century-old toys-to-clothes retailer Woolworths, whose more than 800 shops began closing before Christmas and will all be shut down by next week.
Surge of bankruptcies
Many more companies are facing difficulties and the period between Christmas and Easter could see a surge of fresh bankruptcies.
"Our current expectation ... is that the number of redundancies will jump sharply in the early months of 2009, once employers take stock of the economic outlook," said Philpott.
The institute's annual barometer forecast "is that the UK economy will shed at least 600,000 jobs in 2009," he said.
"Overall the 18-month period from the start of the recession in mid-2008 until the end of 2009 will witness the loss of around three quarters of a million jobs," equal to the rise in jobs in the last three years, he added.
"Assuming the economy bottoms out in the second half of 2009, job losses are likely to continue into 2010, in all probability taking the final toll of lost jobs to around one million."