Professional services staff numbers decline

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Employment in business and professional services has started to fall and the consumer sector will follow, according to the latest quarterly survey of the UK's service industries by the Confederation of British Industry and Deloitte & Touche.

Business optimism also deteriorated sharply. A net balance of 77% of consumer service businesses had grown more pessimistic, with a 50% figure for business and professional services.

The survey will reinforce fears that the UK's ability to keep growing at a steady rate - while the rest of the world economy faltered - was temporary. Buoyant employment in service industries has been compensating for job losses in manufacturing - allowing consumer spending to keep rising.

Volume in business and professional services has fallen, according to the latest survey, which was carried out in late October and early November.