Construction job losses are starting once again to mount with a further 9,000 knocked of the number of workforce jobs in the final quarter of last year, as measured by the national statisticians.

This means that at the end of 2010 there were about 2,128,000 construction jobs measured compared with 2,180,000 at the end of 2009 – a drop of just over 50,000.

That takes the number of jobs lost from peak in September 2008 to 246,000, when numbers peaked at 2,374,000. That is a loss of more than one in ten jobs.

But with construction work now looking that is on the slide and with the increasing noises coming from contractors about restructuring for less work, we should expect the fall in job numbers to continue.

Indeed, redundancies were on a quarterly basis up again in the final quarter of last year.

Historically, as the second graph shows, we have seen job losses continue well beyond the end of a recession. So with a second dip of this recession appearing to be in train the industry should expect to see a long period of decline in workforce numbers.

It was the best part of nine years before the number of workforce jobs stabilised in the 1990s from the start of that recession.

There will naturally be bright spots and after a long period of jobs freezes we should start to see – and indeed appear to be seeing in recruitment surveys – a greater level of job turnover.

And the labour market figures suggest that there has been in recent months a slight uplift in the number of construction vacancies recorded at job centres, which again supports the view that the jobs market has thawed a little.

But this should not disguise the fact that job opportunities in the construction sector will be hard won from here on.