The number of job vacancies in the IT sector fell by nearly a quarter in the last three months of 2008, according to the latest research by SSL and Computer Weekly.
The drop is worse than the falls seen during the dot.com crash in 2001, and is quickly approaching the steep decline in the job market of the 1991 recession.
Compared to the previous quarter, there were 24.3% fewer jobs advertised from October to December than there were from July to September.
Some job roles saw larger drops in demand than others. Skills still in demand include Oracle, Java, SQL, C#, .net and SAP.
Salary levels also reflected the drop, with advertised salaries remaining at the same level as last year. This is the first time this has happened since 1992.
The research, by Salary Services Limited (SSL) and Computer Weekly, predicts that the worrying trends will continue into 2009.
George Molyneaux, research director at SSL, said, "It is quite possible that recruitment will virtually dry up during the next quarter in a trend not seen since the third quarter of 1991."
Finance is still the most affected sector, with a drop of 32.1% in demand. Software houses saw demand fall 21.6%, and manufacturing, retail and media all saw falls. The public sector was the only one to buck the trend, with 9.5% more jobs being advertised since the previous quarter.
The main ramifications of the credit crunch had previously been contained in London, but the last quarter of 2008 saw its tentacles spread into the rest of the UK.
Recruitment is down by 27.5% in the north east of England, 17% in Scotland, 22.1% in the south of England, and 10% in Wales and the west of England.
Molyneaux said there may be some good news in the form of a respite from offshoring.
"The availability of people with the required skills combined with major falls in the value of sterling should start to make it more attractive for companies to retain UK IT operations," he said.