Construction employment falls 14%

THE latest evidence of a declining Irish construction industry came yesterday with fresh monthly figures from the Central Statistics Office showing that the number of those employed in the sector fell by nearly 14%, on a year-on-year basis, in April.

The annual fall in construction employment numbers in April — technically measured at 13.8% — isn’t much of a surprise, as every month this year so far has shown a similar year-on-year trend. However, since January’s annualised fall of 10%, the year-on-year decline has steadily risen each month. February’s fall was measured at 10.8%, while there was a like-for-like fall of 12.4% in the number of people employed in the sector in March.

“In the first four months of the year, the numbers in construction employment were down by almost 12% on the same period in 2007. All in all, it looks like things will get worse before they get better on the construction front in the coming months,” commented Alan McQuaid, chief economist at Bloxham Stockbrokers.

The latest CSO figures top off quite a depressing week for the building industry. Last Monday’s Ulster Bank purchasing managers’ index for the sector showed that the monthly index — already coming off the back of a downbeat few editions — fell by a lowest ever reading of 33.9 in May, suggesting that the still-to-be-released May employment figures from the CSO could just be continuing the recent declining trend.

Indeed, the Ulster Bank figures showed a significant fall in employment figures in the sector during May, also — mainly on the back of weak levels of work orders lodged during the last month.

Ulster Bank chief economist, Pat McArdle, said the combined data indicated “a poor outlook for construction activity in the coming months”.

The actual monthly employment index for April from the CSO decreased from 109.1 last year to 94 for the same month this year.


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