Construction Employment At 30-Year High


Employment in Australia's construction industry has hit its highest level on record, making it the country's third largest employment industry behind healthcare and social services and retail.

Australia Bureau of Statistics indicates that the total number of people employed in the building sector rose 1.5 per cent nationally, in the three months prior to August this year, increasing the industry to 1.047 million.

This is the highest number since the Australia Bureau of Statistics commenced its data on employment numbers for different industries nearly 30 years ago.

New South Wales showed the greatest growth in Australia, with employment in the building sector increasing by 30,000 from last year.

Jobs in Tasmania continued to increase 3.4 per cent, while the employment with the construction sector in Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia were down 6.6 per cent, 3.3 per cent and 0.4 per cent respectively in comparison to the year before.

In New South Wales, a surge in demand for building sector workers is created by the massive recovery in home building, due to several years of low building activity leading to what is considered to be significant undersupply of available housing stock.

While the undersupply of products hasn’t yet had a significant effect on the shortage of labour supply or upward pressure on wage or subcontractor rates on an aggregate basis, it is predicted pressure may be emerging in some areas which are primarily exposed to the residential side of the industry.

Housing Industry Association’s latest trade report suggests that shortages are starting to emerge in trades such as bricklaying, ceramic tiling and roofing, and trade prices for bricklaying and tiling have risen by 8.1 per cent and 5.9 per cent respectively.

Master Builders Australia chief economist Peter Jones released the latest data, which shows that New South Wales has become a fast emerging powerhouse, and that the labour market momentum was most likely building in Queensland’s residential sector.

“I see over the next few years a sort of consolidation of employment as the disparate forces act in different directions," he said.

“I do think we are likely to see modest growth in total Australia building and construction jobs as the effect of the mining boom flows through but is offset as residential building ramps up.”

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