Ed Balls: 119,000 have lost their jobs in the construction industry

1 October 2012

"With 119,000 construction jobs lost in two years and a 68 per cent fall in the number of affordable homes being built, we need bold and urgent action now."

Ed Balls, Labour conference, October 1, 2012

"Total UK construction output is down by more than 10% and last week's jobs figures showed that the number of jobs in the construction sector has fallen by 89,000, bringing the total number of construction jobs lost since this Government came to power to 120,000."

Rachel Reeves, House of Commons, September 17, 2012

In his keynote speech at the Labour conference, the Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls highlighted the plight of the construction industry workforce, which has supposedly lost 119,000 jobs since the Coalition entered office. The figures were also brought up by Rachel Reeves MP during a House of Commons debate on September 17. 

This is despite recent figures on the labour market from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) which reveal that overall unemployment declined by 0.1 percentage points between the three-month period February-April 2012 and the three-month period May-July 2012. 

Construction output has also been showing promising signs of recovery from a steep drop of 5.2% in 2010 to a more buoyant 3.9% rise in the second quarter of 2012.

Despite all this, it is indeed true that the contruction industry has lost 119,000 jobs in the last two years. The Labour Market Statistics analyse industry data for both the public and the private sector. 


The table above shows that the construction industry had 2,115,000 workers in June 2010 (the closest available month to the election for which there is data). For June 2012 the figure is roughly 1,996,000. This includes the private and public sector, part-time and full-time workers and self-employed workers.

Employment in the construction sector is also at its lowest ebb since June 2010, as seen in the graph below. 

It's worth pointing out that a number of factors have been shown to have affected the prolonged downturn, and amongst others the ONS lists unseasonal weather and restricted demand for open-market housing.

In additon, the Government's Guarantees Scheme (still to be passed) for infrastructure projects could positively affect employment and output. George Osborne told the BBC that £10 billion will go towards housing associations and private sector developers to boost employment in the sector.

That these projects are yet to impact the statistics suggests that "Rebuilding Britain" could well be a long process.

Flickr image courtesty of drp.

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