Numbers from the profession joining dole queue quintupled from a year ago

Quantity surveyors are joining the dole queue faster than any other profession, according to government figures.

Members of the profession on benefit soared to 590 by December 2008, almost five times more than a year previously.

Architects came a close second, with the number out of work and claiming job-seekers' allowance up 432% on 2007 to 1,490.

Construction managers also fared poorly. More than 4,000 were on the dole by the end of last year, up from 785 in late 2007.

More than 1.1m people were out of work and claiming benefits by the start of December last year. Unlike previous recessions, middle class professionals are thought to be among the groups hardest hit by job losses.

Unemployment figures out on Thursday are expected to show the number of people claiming benefits rose by a further 89,000 during December.