Confidence over the performance of the economy among employers has tilted negative, falling by 9% in the latest JobsOutlook survey conducted by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation.
Just under a third (31%) of the 601 employers asked said they expected the economy to worsen and only 28% expect it to improve.
Despite the unease, one in five businesses were still planning to increase staff numbers in the next three months but raised concerns about the quality of appropriate candidates available, a particular problem in the construction industry.
REC chief executive Kevin Green said: “The jobs market continues to do well despite growing uncertainty. However, this drop in employer confidence should raise a red flag.
“Businesses are continuing to hire to meet demand, but issues like access to labour, Brexit negotiations and political uncertainty are creating nervousness. Employers in the construction sector are especially concerned as they rely heavily on EU workers to meet the growing demand for housing and to support the government’s infrastructure plans.”
Consumer confidence was also falling with the index of sentiment dropping to -12, a low last seen in the days after the Brexit referendum.
Green added: “The government must do more to create an environment where businesses have clarity. That means clearly laying out what Brexit plans look like and how employers can keep recruiting the people they need from the EU.
“The jobs market is in a good place but employers will only continue to hire and invest if they feel assured about the future.”