The latest jobs data from the Office for National Statistics support the widely held view that construction employment is falling.
And, given that employment data tends to lag output data, we should then expect to see further, perhaps more significant, falls in the number employed in construction in the relatively near future.
It’s risky to draw too much meaning from one data point, but the general trend can be seen in the top graph with both the workforce jobs and employment data series broadly on a downward path and construction output taking a nasty turn for the worse.
The workforce jobs figure for construction stands at 2,038,000. This is 322,000 down from the peak. This compares with the alternative Labour Force Survey measure which puts those employed in construction at 2,141,000 down 408,000 from peak.
The latest data are also consistent with the view that redundancies are on the rise (see bottom graph). Again health warnings apply, but there is a hint that after a period of relative stability we may be set for a new phase of job cutting.
If we pull the workforce jobs figures apart (see middle graph) there does appear to be an increase in the number of self-employed (up 36,000 this March compared with two years ago) while employee jobs are in decline (down 69,000 this March compared with two years ago).
The Labour Force measure of employment does not show quite the same level of rise within self-employment, but it shows a far deeper decline in those employed.
This all suggests that employment in the sector is less stable than the headline figures might suggest, with employers increasingly nervous about taking people onto the books.