The slump in the employment market has led to tougher times for Australia’s Web classified advertising market.

The number of Internet job ads in Australia fell 9.5 per cent in December to an average 180,535 a week, the biggest decline since surveys of online ads started in 1998, ANZ said in its monthly job market report. The total decline for 2008 was 28.1 percent.

The decline puts a damper on Australian job site Seek’s growth. Company execs warned in November that earnings growth would slump from 37 per cent in 2007-08 to zero this year.

A Deutsche Bank analyst, Tim Plumbe, said ad volume on Seek was down 40 per cent from the beginning of 2008.

The recession is hitting the large metropolitan newspapers in Australia particularly hard, where job classifieds have more than halved since December 200. Print job ads slid more than 30 per cent during the final three months of last year, ANZ said.