Employers in the North East say they are likely to take on fewer staff in 2004 than they did a year ago, a new survey reveals.
Workforce management company Manpower, says that while jobs are still available, firms are planning to take on fewer permanent staff.
The organisation said 10% of firms questioned in the region planned to take on new workers in coming months.
This compared to 16% of firms in the UK as a whole.
Jason Greaves, regional manager for Manpower in the North East, said: "The employment outlook for the North East is positive, but cautious. Employment prospects
"The employment market is stable and growth is steady across the region and we expect to see further growth throughout 2004.
"Of particular note is the increased demand we've seen for permanent placements."
The Manpower Employment Outlook Survey provides a forecast of employer hiring intentions for the quarter ahead.
More than 2,500 UK employers were surveyed.
Mr Greaves said: "A key area where we've seen employment prospects pick up is in financial services, particularly in sales positions.
"The call centre sector in general, which has grown at a fast rate over recent years, is now looking quite flat.
"There is also considerable optimism in the service sector, most notably in Newcastle where there has been a lot of investment recently." BBC News