Over the last few months, there have been small signs of recovery for the construction industry, but the latest ONS data is the strongest indication yet that the sector is truly getting back on its feet.
The number of employed construction workers rose by 15,000 between January and March to 2.155 million and this is the first time the industry has seen an increase since the equivalent period two years ago in 2019.
This was mainly driven by a staggering 9% increase in the number of women employed in UK construction, with the number rising to 309,000.
Accordingly, the number of unemployed construction workers fell by 10,000 over the quarter to 62,000, which is the lowest figure since May-July 2020. This is still higher than pre-COVID levels, but things are certainly going in the right direction.
For those who are working, job security and stability seem to be improving too. Redundancies fell by over 20% to just 7,000 – the lowest amount since April-June last year – and the average number of hours worked each week increased by two to 34.3. While still down year-on-year, this is the highest average in four months.
This uplift has led to an increase in earnings. Average weekly income for construction workers grew by £34 to £676 in March, which is the single biggest monthly increase in two years, since March 2019.
It would be naive to say that the industry is back to normal, with many of the figures yet to return to the levels we saw before the pandemic, but the data shows that in many areas, things are looking up for UK construction, and long may that continue.
By Marco Verdonkschot, Managing Director of IronmongeryDirect