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ONS stats may not tell the whole story, says REC Construction

ONS stats may not tell the whole story, says REC Construction
New construction orders fell faster than at any time since 1987 in the first three months of 2011, according to todays figures from the Office of National Statistics. Order volumes were 23 per cent lower across the sector than in the previous quarter, and 18 per cent lower than in the same period in 2010.
These figures add to a perception that the industry has suffered a setback after appearing to recover towards the end of 2010. However, the ONS stats have previously been challenged by other groups. These include the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors and research firm Markit, whose business surveys painted a picture of small but promising growth over the same period.
The RECs Report on Jobs has also recorded positive results from construction recruiters throughout the year, suggesting continued demand in the industry.
Responding to the latest figures, Simon Noakes, Chair of REC Construction, said:
These figures will only continue the debate about the true economic situation within the construction industry. Whilst these figures are concerning, most recruiters certainly do not feel that the industry has suffered so badly in the first three months of the year. In fact, we have seen a reasonable flow of new orders throughout and continued demand for staff.
However, even if the real picture is not as bad as is being suggested, there is still cause for concern. The recovery we have been seeing after two very bad years is a fragile one, and it remains crucial that we do everything possible to make growth sustainable and long-term.
Ensuring the flexibility of the workforce will be central to this, so that the industry can react quickly as demand shifts. Supporting the entrepreneurial spirit and allowing self-employment where appropriate will also be a crucial part of this. The REC and its members stand ready to help government and other stakeholders in meeting these goals.


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