Vacancies remain high, while weekly earnings 7.6% hike fails to keep pace with inflation

Construction vacancies reduced 4% in May but remain at historically high levels.

The latest official data shows there were 46,000 vacancies in the construction industry in April to May, down slightly from 48,000 in the overlapping period of February to April.

Despite the drop, vacancies in the industry remain high, (see graph below) with the 46,000 figure only being surpassed on three occasions in the past 21 years, and all of these within the past 10 months.


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There were 3.1 vacancies per 100 employee jobs in the construction sector in the period, according to the Office for National Statistics.

This is lower than the 4.3 figure posted for all industries, and is also lower than for 20 out of 22 industries listed in the dataset. Construction vacancies have increased 44% year-on-year, compared with 70% across all industries.

The vacancies data follows a warning from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) that the industry needs to add more than quarter of a million workers by 2026 to keep pace with demand.  The body’s latest Construction Skills Network reported that 53,200 additional workers would be needed each year, with carpentry and joinery identified as particularly susceptible to recruitment pinch points.

The ONS also yesterday published data on earnings. This showed average weekly earnings in the construction sector increased 7.6% in February to April, the highest monthly growth since last summer. However, inflation under the Consumer Price Index measure rose 7.8% in April. The ONS said across the economy basic pay fell by 2.2% in real terms, while total pay including bonuses rose 0.4%.


>> Also read: Building’s Every Person Counts campaign focusing on the causes, consequences and solutions of construction’s skills crisis.

>> Construction must respond quickly to the fast growing number of vacancies


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