The latest employment figures provide yet more grim reading for those in construction with the numbers made redundant in the final quarter of last year rocketing to 48,000.

The official figures out today show that 109,000 construction employees were made redundant over the year. Some will have got new jobs, but the claimant count figures suggest that many have not.

The redundancy figures also underplay the carnage in the construction jobs market as so many of those engaged in the industry are self-employed. Those having lost their regular work could quite easily be double the number of recorded redundancies.

For those thrown out of work, the outlook for future months looks even worse as figures for all industries show the numbers signing on the dole is accelerating. 73,800 more signed on this January and with the dole queue 438,100 people longer than in January last year.

redundancies 2008.GIF

The figures for both redundancies and claimant count provide yet more evidence that the official workforce figures may be very awry, suggesting as they did that there was a surge of 30,000 in the construction workforce in the third quarter of last year.

If you look at the growth in the claimant count among construction workers there is a definite and strong upward shift in the numbers from the construction workforce signing on from the spring of last year. (see the graphs on the previous blog)

What is also evident is that the upward swing in the those signing on varies slightly from trade to trade as the work began to dry up in different sectors and also as it worked its way through the construction process.

It doesn't take much to see that the claimant count figures are very much at odds with the notion that employment rose by 30,000 in the third quarter of last year. I have mentioned before some of the problems with the data before.

But for me what is important here is that the scale of the crisis in construction is understood and understood early rather than after too much irreparable damage is done. It is especially important that the political classes understand the scale of the issues the industry faces.

To mangle metaphors as I love to do, the die is cast and clutching at straws in the hope that the construction industry will avoid a crash landing is of little use and may well delay the necessary action needed to ameliorate the worst of the pain.

The political classes must begin to recognise that construction is looking at losing more than 500,000 from its ranks. That is roughly one in four jobs. Worse odds than with Russian Roulette.