Faltering confidence in the outlook for the global economy compounded the usual summertime lull in hiring activity.
While new job vacancies decreased across the board in August, compared to the previous month, some sectors were more significantly affected than others.
The banking, insurance and finance industries saw the sharpest fall, with permanent job vacancies dropping 15.9% in the last month, as many major banks announced job freezes and redundancies. By contrast, the legal sector experienced one of the smallest contractions, shrinking 5.8%.
Engineering and construction remains one of the most active sectors for job creation, with 22,654 vacancies advertised in August, and while there was a drop in both temporary and permanent vacancies compared to July, the decline was less marked than many other industries.
In the temporary market, the IT sector was notable for its relative stability, with a slight 0.18% drop in vacancies, compared to falls [of more than 12%] in the accountancy, legal, and banking, insurance and finance sectors.
Steven Kirkpatrick, MD Adecco, said: "While activity levels in Adecco continue to remain high, with an encouraging number of vacancies coming through and being filled quickly, the wider UK jobs vacancy statistics show a different picture. Employers on both sides of the pond are clearly demonstrating the caution they feel about their growth prospects following the US debt and Eurozone crises by putting the brakes on new recruitment, exacerbating what is traditionally a weak month for the jobs market anyway.
"It remains to be seen over the next couple of months whether this is just an exaggerated seasonal blip or whether hiring activity in the UK really has stalled. What's particularly crucial for the British economy, in the short term at least, is whether the temporary market can regain some of the impetus which has been so valuable in sustaining stability over recent months."
New vacancies for general staffing roles also suffered with the banking, insurance and finance sectors again seeing substantial decreases in volumes for both permanent and temporary vacancies, showing that caution is spreading across all staffing levels.
The media, new media and creative sector saw the lowest drop in vacancies for permanent roles, but it was still significant at -9.91%.
Temporary vacancies are also looking less healthy than in previous months.
Unlike the market as a whole, general staffing roles in the engineering and construction sector have fallen substantially for both temporary and permanent roles.
On the temporary side, the public sector saw the smallest fall in job vacancies, at -8.16%, followed by retail at -8.96%.
Kirkpatrick added: "With new vacancies declining, it's no big surprise that the latest Government figures show unemployment on the rise. We really need a shot in the arm with the Government and Business working together to reinvigorate confidence in the British jobs market and doing more to ensure that people who want to work, young people and disadvantaged groups in particular, are not excluded from gaining experience in the workplace."