LONDON: The number of people employed by advertising agencies in the UK declined last year for the first time since 1993, figures from the IPA, the industry body, show.

Based on a survey of its member agencies, the organisation reported that overall staffing levels fell by 7.4% during 2009, to 18,635 in all.

First-year trainees contributed just 1.3% of this total, compared with 3.9% in 2008, while the share of this figure made up by people under the age of 25 also tumbled by 22.7%, further indicative of this trend.

Alongside reducing headcount, 15.9% of participants had introduced "short-time working", while 18.7% had allowed employees to take sabbaticals or unpaid leave.

Hamish Pringle, director general of the IPA, said "this has been the toughest period for agencies in living memory, but the IPA Census shows just how resilient and resourceful our membership has been under extremely difficult circumstances."

Data sourced from IPA; additional content by Warc staff