The number of firms planning to recruit staff in the New Year has fallen to a six-year low, according to a new report today.
A survey of 2,000 companies by employment giant Manpower said the overall jobs picture remains positive despite the expected easing in hiring plans.
Four out of five companies said they are set to make no changes to their staffing levels in the first quarter of 2008, with 13 per cent expecting to recruit and six per cent intended to cut jobs.
The West Midlands is slightly less gloomy, despite a fall of 18 percentage points on the quarter.
It found seventeen per cent of employers predicting an increase in headcount levels and eight per cent reporting a decline in staffing numbers, the strongest first quarter outlook since 2004.
Mark Cahill, managing director of Manpower, said: "The credit crunch, concerns about interest rates and house prices have been talked about for some months, making for a more uncertain time for both employers and employees, and these concerns appear to be reflected in hiring expectations.
"However, it is important to note that the overall picture remains positive - hiring growth is easing but there are still more employers taking on staff than reducing headcount."
Greg Hollis, Manpower's operations manager for the West Midlands, said: "Business development in the Midlands is growing at a fast pace, and employers in the West Midlands are responding positively by hiring more workers. As a business we are experiencing demand across all sectors, with particular focus on recruitment in the public sector.
"A real pocket of growth in the West Midlands is Coventry, with an increasing number of big businesses relocating there.
"A key driver for investment could be linked to the rich pool of talent in the local labour market. In our experience Coventry is an area which is very easy to attract candidates and fill job vacancies. Similarly business investment in Birmingham is buoying the labour market and employers are capitalising on the high volume of talent.
"Looking forward to next year we expect the labour market to continue to evolve and grow making the West Midlands one of the best places in the country to find work in 2008."
Around the country, employers in 11 of the 12 regions surveyed reported increased hiring activity for the coming January to March period, with the exception of those in the North East.
Confidence about new jobs is highest among utilities companies, while it falls in the finance sector.
In a separate and more buoyant survey UPS Europe found that well over a third (38 per cent) of business leaders in the UK say they plan to increase their workforce over the next 12 months.
The figure is the highest since the question was first asked in 1993 and is up two per cent on last year's results. Some 55 per cent predict the economic position of their firm will be better in 12 months' time and only six per cent think it will be worse.
Jim Barber, managing director, UPS UK & Ireland, said: "Following the recent turbulence in the economic climate it is very encouraging to see businesses in the UK and across Europe feeling optimistic, especially in terms of the employment outlook.