More signs of downturn with gloomy economic forecast and job losses at Ballast and Broadway Malyan.
The UK construction sector will lose 100,000 jobs in the next 12 months, according to a report by economic think tank the Centre for Economics and Business Research.

The news comes in a week when three more firms – contractors Ballast and Interior Services Group, and architect Broadway Malyan – said they were reducing staff numbers.

Ballast is reducing the posts at its UK and international divisions by 350, Broadway Malyan has lost 25 and ISG has cut three positions in its furniture division.

The cutbacks come in the wake of retrenchment at commercial architects hit by delays in projects after the 11 September attacks on the USA.

The CEBR forecasts that 1.1 million people will work in the sector by early 2003, compared with 1.2 million this year. The research covers contractors and all consultants, except architects.

The report says: "Construction is a sector that tends to be at the teeth of every downturn, just as it tends to be a disproportionate beneficiary of any boom."

The CEBR believes a sharp downturn in the housing market and a lack of office development in London to be the main causes of the redundancies.

Construction tends to be at the teeth of every downturn

CEBR think tank report

Mark Pragnell, a co-author of the report, which is entitled the Monthly Economic Bulletin for November, said these problems have been compounded by the terrorist attacks.

Pragnell said the attacks might account for 10-20% of job losses in the sector. The report notes, however, that rising public sector investment will cushion the blow.

Top six architect Broadway Malyan confirmed that it had imposed a recruitment freeze. This has led to staff numbers falling by 25 since September.

A spokesperson for Broadway Malyan said: "We're carefully reflecting on the [economic] situation. There has been a slowdown in growth. We're not casting people off; we're just not employing as many."

ISG said it was also reviewing 12 posts in its Interior fit-out division because of delays in client decisions and the completion of two major projects. A decision will be made next week.