Analysis points to 12% reduction in workforce since 2007

The construction industry has suffered the second-biggest number of job losses of any sector in the UK economy over the past four years, according to a new analysis from the TUC.

It said that the sector’s workforce had reduced in size by some 281,000 - roughly 12% - between the last quarter of 2007 and the last quarter of 2011.

Only manufacturing suffered a bigger decline, reducing its workforce by some 406,000 jobs - a 14% contraction of the sector.

Job losses in the retail, hotel and restaurants industry suffered the third biggest decline, shedding 221,000 jobs since 2007, a fall of 3%

Conversely, the TUC said finance and business services had expanded over the same period, gaining 98,000 jobs - a 2% increase.

At the same time, the organisation said pay within the sectors had trailed the Retail Price Index’s compound increase of 13.5% over the same period, with construction wages only rising by an average of 0.2%.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said that while the retail and construction sectors had gained jobs over the last 12 months, they were still a long way off their pre-recession health.

He raised particular fears over levels of youth unemployment.

“A recovery in retail, hotels and restaurants is particularly important for young people as this is where they are most likely to find work. Unfortunately these jobs are heavily dependent on people’s disposable incomes and falling wages are forcing people to rein in their spending,” he said.

“The UK economy desperately needs more jobs and the return of decent pay rises. Our hopes of a sustainable economic recovery depend on this.”

Barber called on the government to introduce a guarantee of paid work or training for every young person out of work for six months or more, as well as a new youth credit to boost access to training, work placements or progression into better jobs.