Industry indications and warnings about a drastic financial decline in the IT market are becoming reality, with demand for IT jobs plummeting and the first ever recorded worldwide downturn in the PC market.

Demand for IT staff dropped for the second month running, bringing the slump lower than its previously lowest recorded level in February 1999, according to the Report on Jobs from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation.

"The rates of growth of demand for all types of employee were below those seen a year earlier," said the report. The report highlighted a slight growth in the demand for temporary IT and computing staff during the first quarter but this figure had fallen again by the end of the second quarter.

The results reflect the findings of the latest worldwide study by market research company IDC, which found global PC shipments had declined two percent in the second quarter of this year compared to the same period last year.

A weak economy in the USA, soft consumer demand in Europe, flat shipments in Japan and slowing growth in key Asian markets combined to cause worldwide sales to dip, according to the report.

In fact Dell was the only computer manufacturer that recorded growth in the second quarter (see above graph), with other big-league players including Compaq and HP noting a marked downturn.

"The market at this present time is bleak but most companies have faced declines before and will ride it out," said a spokesperson at IDC. "For employees it is difficult because the worry is that their skills will become dated and perhaps redundant by the time the market picks up again."

IDC is a company in the IDG group, as is PC Advisor.