The government has been urged to approach spending cuts like a middle-distance runner rather than a sprinter, making sure that most public sector job cuts take effect after 2013.

Ministers should limit public sector job losses to no more than 125,000 - roughly one in five of the total in the pipeline - between now and the end of the 2012/13 financial year, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) said.

Chief economic adviser John Philpott said: “Whatever the latest figures show, the majority of forward-looking indicators suggest that the UK jobs situation is about to take another turn for the worse.

“It’s difficult to judge how serious any dip in demand for labour might be, but one wouldn’t necessarily choose this moment to start cutting public sector employment.

“However, given the government’s clear commitment to cuts to eliminate the deficit in this Parliament, it’s imperative that those cuts are implemented in a way that minimises adverse effects on the government’s wider objectives for growth, jobs, welfare-to-work initiatives and public service reform.”

The CIPD said it still believed that private sector job creation would not offset the impact of public sector job cuts before 2013.

“In view of this, we urge ministers to limit public sector job cuts in the fiscal years 2010/11 to 2012/13 to no more than 125,000. Ideally, the majority of subsequent job cuts would also fall closer to 2015/16 than 2013/14,” said Dr Philpott.