Of all the industries that were affected by the recession in 2008, the construction industry may have suffered the most. For the last few years, reports on the industry have been less than favourable, even on a month by month basis. The Guardian reports,
When Britain emerged from double-dip recession recently, growing by 1% in the third quarter, construction was one sector that remained in the doldrums, shrinking by 2.5%.
On the other hand, Bank of England policymaker Ben Broadbent said recently, “The prospects for the construction sector look less unfavourable than they have been for a while.” Regardless of the predictions, everyone agrees that the construction sector has been struggling. We used Analyst to explore the regions and occupations that are starting to show signs of recovery.
In 2008, Great Britain had just over 1.3 million jobs in the construction industry, a number that decreased to an estimated 1.1 million by 2012. The four regions with the most jobs in the industry are currently the North West (almost 120,000 jobs), the East of England (101,000), London (just over 138,000) and the South East (almost 174,000), so these are the regions we focused on.
The industry as a whole has clearly shrunk, but 2012 has been a better year than 2011 with 1% growth over the last 12 months. Of the four regions, only London saw growth between 2009 and 2012, probably directly related to the Olympic Games and the construction that was necessary to prepare for them. On a broad scale, we see projected growth in the sector, although it may vary wildly from month to month.
Within the construction industry, there are 22 level 4 industries, all in various stages of growth or decline. Given the range of industries, it can be difficult to pinpoint which are healthy and which are struggling. For example, construction of residential and non-residential buildings employs 277,444 workers, making it the largest of the 22 industries. Other specialised construction activities n.e.c. employs 82,513. The disparity between these two values is perfectly reasonable, given the specialised nature of the latter, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that the one industry is stronger than the other.
Here’s a list of all 22 industries, arranged by SIC code:
|SIC Code||Description||All Great Britain||East of England||London||North West||South East|
|Source: EMSI Covered Employment - 2012.1|
|4110||Development of building projects||41,957||4,743||12,857||5,072||6,184|
|4120||Construction of residential and non-residential buildings||277,444||27,155||38,468||23,589||44,212|
|4211||Construction of roads and motorways||44,660||3,170||3,403||7,184||7,511|
|4212||Construction of railways and underground railways||9,662||607||1,823||372||1,140|
|4213||Construction of bridges and tunnels||208||<10||24||27||12|
|4221||Construction of utility projects for fluids||3,763||147||<10||2,751||<10|
|4222||Construction of utility projects for electricity and telecommunications||3,421||406||167||632||285|
|4291||Construction of water projects||1,650||30||11||127||615|
|4299||Construction of other civil engineering projects n.e.c.||116,574||13,956||11,292||11,194||18,132|
|4313||Test drilling and boring||699||56||27||154||51|
|4322||Plumbing, heat and air-conditioning installation||108,525||10,166||13,791||11,396||18,543|
|4329||Other construction installation||27,571||1,883||2,613||2,100||5,388|
|4333||Floor and wall covering||16,821||1,235||1,129||2,490||2,482|
|4334||Painting and glazing||41,624||2,694||3,091||6,154||5,040|
|4339||Other building completion and finishing||37,217||3,286||4,183||5,096||5,726|
|4399||Other specialised construction activities n.e.c.||82,513||6,302||10,928||9,303||8,804|
Construction of residential and non-residential buildings has grown across three of our four regions, with a 6% increase in Great Britain as a whole. The growth is very region-specific, however. In the South East, the industry has grown by 37%, while in the North West, it has actually declined 18%, with a loss of 5,041 jobs. The majority of industries in the construction sector have a negative overall percent change between 2008 and 2012, with some pockets of recent growth. For example, joinery installation shows a 23% decrease between 2008 and 2012, but at the beginning of 2011, it actually increased by 1.5%.
In the South East, demolition has grown by 100% (from 189 jobs to 378) which could be bad news for the rest of the construction sector. On the other hand, other construction installation has grown 181% in the same region. Overall, the South East appears relatively robust: the construction industry in the region shrank only 6.7% between 2008 and 2011 and is already growing again. In fact, all four of our regions have seen growth in the past 12 months, and in London, the construction industry has grown 9% in the last two years.
The five occupations that account for most of the jobs in the construction industry are managers in construction (SOC 1122), electricians (SOC 5241), carpenters and joiners (SOC 5315), labourers in building and woodworking trades (SOC 9121), and plumbers, heating and ventilating engineers (SOC 5314). Of these five, managers in construction is the largest, comprising 101,853 jobs in Great Britain and accounting for 10% of all construction industry jobs in the East of England, London, and the South East. Since 2008, the occupation has declined by 12% in Britain, although it has grown in the South East by 4%.
|SOC Code||Description||2008 Jobs||2012 Jobs||% Change||% of Industry|
|Source: EMSI Covered Employment - 2012.1|
|1122||Managers in construction||115,737||101,853||-12%||8%|
|5241||Electricians, electrical fitters||101,319||97,225||-4%||7%|
|5315||Carpenters and joiners||99,520||71,848||-28%||7%|
|5314||Plumbers, heating and ventilating engineers||86,136||69,562||-19%||6%|
|9121||Labourers in building and woodworking trades||88,246||55,284||-37%||6%|
|5319||Construction trades n.e.c.||61,429||49,432||-20%||5%|
|5323||Painters and decorators||38,188||28,266||-26%||3%|
|8229||Mobile machine drivers and operatives n.e.c.||27,197||17,239||-37%||2%|
|8149||Construction operatives n.e.c.||32,329||24,470||-24%||2%|
|4150||General office assistants/clerks||23,776||19,775||-17%||2%|
|1121||Production, works and maintenance managers||23,469||22,551||-4%||2%|
|5223||Metal working production and maintenance fitters||21,226||17,559||-17%||2%|
|8141||Scaffolders, stagers, riggers||21,691||16,849||-22%||2%|
|5313||Roofers, roof tilers and slaters||17,715||12,956||-27%||1%|
|8142||Road construction operatives||18,279||19,085||4%||1%|
|4122||Accounts and wages clerks, book-keepers, other financial clerks||20,091||15,554||-23%||1%|
|4215||Personal assistants and other secretaries||20,097||13,291||-34%||1%|
Road construction operatives (SOC 8142), even though they only make up 1% of the construction industry, have seen the greatest growth in the last five years. Since 2008 they have increased 4%, adding 806 new jobs.
So where does this leave us? Whilst even the most bouyant regions have been struggling, the good news is that the industry has slowly begun to recover, and is expected to continue to grow.