Recruitment specialist Michael Page has again reiterated its belief that the economy is not picking up. Michael Page, which supplies temporary and full time IT, accounting and finance staff, reported a pre-tax profit of £43.2 million for the first six months of 2009.

In its half year results for the period ending June 30, 2009 Michael Page said it considered market conditions remaining "weak" and that temporary recruitment is being hit hardest. As in July, the recruitment company said it expected the third quarter of the year to be "challenging".

The £43.2m profit was down 49 per cent on the £84.1m it reported for the first half of 2008 and this drop in profits would have been even more severe had it not been for a VAT refund from HMRC of £26.5m. Without this payment, profits at Michael Page actually fell by 62 per cent to £32.2m.

The British recruitment market makes up 32 per cent of Michael Page group profits and reported a revenue drop of 27 per cent to £137.8, compared to £188.8m in 2008. Group wide the company has seen profits hit by the credit crisis in Australia and the US, but did indicate improvements in mainland Europe.

"We continue to adjust our headcount in response to market conditions, retaining our more experienced and stronger people," said Steve Ingham, Michael Page Chief Executive. Earlier in the year the company hinted it may begin to recruit staff as demand for workers increased. "In the last 12 months we have reduced headcount by a third, largely though natural attrition and with a lower cost base we have remained profitable in the first half of 2009."