THE number of job advertisements fell 9 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year as staff movements declined during the festive season.

There were 236,191 advertisements for professional positions in the three months to Dec 31, down from 259,665 in the third quarter, according to data released yesterday by recruitment consultancy Robert Walters.

Robert Walters Singapore managing director Andrea Ross said a general reluctance to change jobs ahead of bonuses in the new year contributed to a decline in ads across most sectors.

The firm also said the fall was due in part to the demand for senior high-profile roles that are not usually advertised.

Ads for jobs in engineering, including surveyors, architects and technicians, remained steady with 34,577 placed in the quarter.

The human resources sector also stayed fairly steady with 12,955 ads posted, down a touch from the third quarter.

The steadily improving economic climate meant that ads in the three months were up 15 per cent from the same quarter a year go.

Ms Ross said Robert Walters expects to see an increase in labour movement this year as sentiment in the market remains positive.

'This is particularly apparent in the human resources sector, where recruitment levels have remained broadly consistent in the fourth quarter. This demonstrates a sustained level of confidence in market recovery as more roles are filled to support business growth,' she said.

The Robert Walters survey tracked the number of ads in the executive appointments sections of The Straits Times and the Singapore editions of online portals JobStreet, Monster, JobsCentral, JobsDB and ST701.

The study also covered Hong Kong, mainland China and Japan.

Across the region, the total number of ads rose 3.1 per cent quarter-on-quarter due primarily to significant growth in Japan.

The regional numbers were up 57.42 per cent over the fourth quarter of 2009.

'We saw a significant surge in recruitment levels across the region in the first half of the year, as employers began to fill those roles vacated during the financial crisis,' said Mr Mark Ellwood, managing director at Robert Walters Asia.

'In the last quarter, this recruitment drive has slowed down with companies looking towards performance-related payments and headcount assessments for the coming financial year.'