The latest jobless figures showing a leap of 81,000 people unemployed over the past quarter will come as little surprise to most people in the construction industry. They are seeing life getting tougher by the day, especially those with any links to house building.
The major house builders have axed about 40% of their direct workforce and for each of them roughly five others lose their work.
Against this background it is no shock that the figure put on the number of job vacancies in construction does point to a rapidly deteriorating employment market. The figure dropped to its lowest level this decade, suggesting that for those losing their jobs it will be a much tougher fight to find another - as if most people out there don't know that.
However, it is odd that despite company collapses and swathes of redundancies in the industry the figures for workforce jobs in construction remain roughly level.
The data provided by the labour market stats on vacancies suggest that on average over the past six or seven years there were about 22,000 vacancies at any one time in the construction industry.
The latest figure shows that the number has dropped to 19,000 from a high of 24,100 last September. Of more concern is that the figures are averages over three months, so the chances are given the direction the market is heading in that the 19,000 flatters the current situation.
This data all points to a worsening jobs market. But it does seem odd that, on the face of it, the number of workforce jobs in construction has remained pretty much unaffected by the clear loss of jobs in the market.
After seasonally adjusting the figures the Labour Force Survey puts the number of jobs in construction at 2.214 million for the second quarter of this year against 2.23 million for the same period a year ago, when job numbers peaked.
Given the natural volatility of the industry this represents pretty much a flat workforce.
I have a lot of time for the Labour Force Survey, but there are clearly issues. Certainly, the likely under-representation of foreign workers within the figures is something that I have heard much chat about. So, if there has been a disproportionate loss to the industry from, say, Eastern Europeans who have decided not to return, this would distort the figures.
I am not saying that this is the case, but it is worth considering before taking the figures too much at face value.
There is another factor worth considering when looking at the workforce jobs data and that is the quality of the jobs.
A very large slice of the workforce in construction is self employed, particularly among those on the tool. There can be quite a squeeze on the level of workload undertaken by this group before there is any change in the number. People just work fewer days of hours.
Further the workforce data measures jobs not numbers employed. So if there is an increase in people doing two jobs, this would distort the impression we get from the raw data.
The suspension of the quarterly employment data that is published alongside the output figures is a pain, as this would have given us another measure to gain a slightly clearer idea of what is going on.
So, for my money I would be very cautious before taking too much comfort in the latest labour force figures.