Good news to end the year on for construction

NOW that we are into December, we are due some good news in the construction industry. Let’s not mince words, for many people, 2010 has been what Her Majesty would describe as an “annus horribilis”.

But the pages of the latest trade press herald a bright spark of hope that things might just be starting to get better.

Data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that our industry saw the greatest increase in employment of any sector in the second quarter of 2010.

The figures showed that construction sector employment rose by 53,000 between April 1 and the end of June.

By the end of this period, there were 2.1 million people employed in the construction sector.

On top of this, the number of people in construction being made redundant was on the way down in the third quarter of the year.

Between July 1 and the end of September, 18,000 people in the construction sector were laid off, compared with 21,000 between April and June.

This is compared with 38,000 between July and September the previous year.

As positive as all of this seems, let’s not get carried away. We are still well behind where we were a year ago.

At the end of June 2009, there were 2.175 million people employed in construction, 75,000 more than at that point this year, and we have seen Connaught and Rok go into administration since that time.

In terms of the money earned from construction, there are signs of a halt in the fall.

In September 2008, the average weekly wage in the sector was £537, which dropped to £533 one year later. In 2010, that figure remained static.

So, when we look at the growth in construction jobs, the reduction in the number of redundancies and the levelling of wages, we see a picture being painted of a sector balancing out.

However, the fact that all of these figures relate to the period prior to the Comprehensive Spending Review may yet prove significant.

Likewise, we have all seen and heard the doom and gloom which continues to affect people we know, or know of.

Should these trends outlined by the Office of National Statistics continue through to the second and third quarters of 2011, then I suspect we can really see a rise in confidence in the construction industry.

For now, it is a good start, but we are certainly not out of the woods yet.

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