A JOBS bloodbath is expected over the next three months with more than 300,000 staff being made redundant.

Experts predict “the worst year for jobs in two decades” with victims in every sector of the economy.

It goes against the prediction of Chancellor Alistair Darling, 55, who said the economy will return to growth in the second half of 2009.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development said 300,000 posts will be axed by April with another 300,000 going by next Christmas.

John Philpott, chief economist at the institute, said personnel departments will “feel more like ER or Casualty”.

He said: “Staff will be traumatised by News of colleagues losing jobs, anxious that they might be next, or simply feeling hard done by because their pay and perks are being scaled back.

“2008 will be seen as merely the slow-motion prelude to what will be the worst year for jobs in almost two decades.”

He said the credit crunch would claim a million jobs by March 2010.

About 40 more Woolworths stores shut yesterday and up to 12 more High Street names could go under in the next month.

Those that have gone into administration include music chain Zavvi, tea and coffee merchant Whittard of Chelsea and menswear retailer The Officers Club, while child-renswear firm Adams has filed a notice of its intention to appoint administrators.

Entertainment Rights, which owns the rights to Basil Brush, has held talks with a potential buyer.

Fashion retailer USC has gone into administration with 300 jobs at risk.