The Small Firms Association says it expects 2009 to be even worse on the jobs front following a huge upsurge in official redundancies during the past year.
According to the association, 37,000 redundancies were officially reported to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment in 2008, an increase of 57% on the figure for 2007.
This represents an average of 777 redundancies every week.
Almost 40% of the lay-offs were in the greater Dublin region and 69% were male workers.
The SFA says many companies are still introducing drastic cost-cutting measures in an effort to survive the economic downturn and the scope, extent and impact of redundancies will be even worse in 2009.