The rate of construction redundancies in the third quarter of this year returned closer to pre-recession levels with “just” 18,000 employees recorded as being made redundant in the three months July to September.
And if we didn’t know what we do know about the future we might suggest that the latest employment figures taken as a whole provide reasons to be positive.
Across the economy as a whole, more people have jobs, fewer are unemployment and the claimant count is down, which should relieve a bit of pressure on the Treasury.
We don’t know how many workforce jobs there were in construction up to the end of the third quarter, we will have to wait a month for that detail. But it would be a fair guess to suggest that the upswing in construction jobs we saw at the start of the year continued through to the third quarter.
However, the collapse of Connaught and then Rok has severely smudged the improving picture as far as construction is concerned – particularly for those based in and around Exeter.
It is not clear how many of the Connaught redundancies will have been picked up in the official third quarter redundancy figures, with time lags etc, but the impact of two sets of large job losses might well help to halt the downward path of redundancies in the final quarter figures.
And with the Treasury’s spending review over, there will be many firms looking to reshape their businesses on the back of a clearer idea of where the opportunities lie and don’t lie. This will most likely prompt further redundancies as contractors cull some of their operations.
However, when we look at the prospects for employment we have to consider not only how many people are losing their jobs but also how easy it is to get a new one.
Here the figures remain pretty discomforting with the level of recorded vacancies still running at about a third of the pre-recession level. And what is more there is a much larger – although slightly shrunk in recent months – bank of workers looking for jobs.
So probably the best we can say about the latest employment figures is that they are not as bad as they were a year ago.
But as to the future the prospects do not look that encouraging.
And once again it seems a cruel twist of fate that uncertainty over jobs should heighten in the run up to Christmas.