THE TOTAL number of people employed in construction suffered its biggest drop for more than a decade during the second quarter of this year.
Figures released by the National Office of Statistics last week show that 38,000 jobs were lost during the three months to take the total employment level in the sector down to 2,185,000.
The fall represents a drop of 1.7 per cent year-on-year and industry observers are blaming uncertainties in the housing market and a slowdown across the private sector.
A spokesman for the Construction Confederation said: 'Growth is still mainly from Government investment, but private sector demand, and in particular housing, is slower.' The importance of public spending was also highlighted this week by the Construction Products Association.
The association is pressuring the Government ahead of next week's Labour party conference, where it will announce the results of a major research project into spending on public services.
And an interim survey conducted by YouGov for the CPA revealed that the public believes Labour is sticking to its promise to improve public services.
The survey showed that 37 per cent of people believe that too many schools are in disrepair, compared with 42 per cent last year.
And the number of people who feel trains are becoming more unreliable has dropped from 56 to 42 per cent, with only the perception of roads among the public services worsening year-on-year.
Association economic director Allan Wilen said: 'Particularly striking is the public's perception that far more needs to be done to improve social housing provision.
Although 43 per cent believe that there has been some increase in the provision of social housing, compared with 38 per cent in 2004, the survey shows an increase in the number of people who believe that more social housing is needed to tackle the problem of homelessness.'