Construction jobs rise in West Midlands despite lockdown

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Construction industry

The demand for construction jobs increased during the second quarter of the year, despite coinciding with the lockdown when many sites were operating at reduced capacity, according to M&DH Insurance Services (M&DH)

M&DH obtained data from National Statistics, which shows that from 1 April to 30 June, the number of construction workers (employees and self-employed) increased by almost 1%, from 2,273,401 to 2,295,906.

M&DH points out that the construction sector has been one of the most prolific users of the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

The proportion of workers furloughed in construction peaked at 40% at the end of April but has been gradually falling since then.

The widespread use of the furlough scheme, along with support for the trade credit insurance market, is likely to have prevented job losses and insolvencies in the industry.

The data reveals that while some UK regions have seen a surge in the number of construction jobs during the most stringent lockdown period, others have seen sharp declines.

The West Midlands and the South East both saw a 6% increase in the number of jobs, from 198,784 to 210,450 and from 340,638 to 361,281, respectively.

At the other end of the scale, the number of construction workers in the North East decreased by 7.5%, from 75,516 to 69,826.

A surprising increase

Richard Hames, managing director of M&DH Insurance Services, said: “These data underline just how successful government support measures have been in mitigating the impact of the lockdown, and the subsequent economic contraction, on the construction sector.

“Nevertheless, it is surprising to see an increase in worker numbers given the cyclical nature of the construction industry and the unprecedented fall in output in Q2.

“Insolvencies in the construction industry hit their lowest level in over a decade in the second quarter of this year.

“The number of furloughed employees in the construction industry has fallen by almost two thirds since the peak in mid-April.

“While the majority of these employees have resumed work, rather than being made redundant, the real test will be whether contractors can find new work as projects near completion and government support winds down in the Autumn.

“We are expecting claims on trade credit insurance in the construction sector to surge towards the end of this year and well into 2021 and demand for policies to remain high as construction businesses look to reduce supply chain risks.”

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