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    Over 1 million with jobs: building and construction is Australia’s third largest employer

    Geraldine Chua

    The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) building and construction employment data cements the building and construction industry as the nation’s third largest employer.

    According to chief economist Peter Jones at Master Builders Australia, jobs created in the industry rose by 1.5 per cent seasonally adjusted in the August quarter, building on the positive trend over the year. The latest figures show more than one million people – 1,028,500 to be exact – are employed in the sector.

    “The welcome growth confirms the need for the Government to prioritise support for employers in established industries which are performing in their rebalancing of funding for skills training,” he said.

    “Overall, industry employment is being driven by the recovery in residential building and before the full impact of the downturn in mining-related engineering construction takes effect.”

    New South Wales emerged as the stand-out performer, with industry employment growth through the year to August up by 29,000 or 10.1 per cent. This marks the third consecutive quarter of 300,000 plus levels of building and construction employment for the state.

    “The construction industry in New South Wales has moved from being a basket case to be a fast emerging ‘powerhouse’ with building and construction well and truly at the forefront of the turnaround,” noted Jones.

    He points to the strong upturn in residential building, improved sentiments in commercial building, as well as less exposure as the expected correction in engineering construction unfolds, as the main drivers of the revival.

    Although weaker than New South Wales, construction employment in the other states and territories mostly tells a good story too.

    In Queensland, Jones says the 3.3 per cent decline in construction employment is largely a case of the upswing in residential building translating into jobs and helping to offset a detraction in jobs as the boom in mining related engineering construction comes to an end.

    For Victoria, employment trended down slightly from an already healthy level, while employment was down 0.4 per cent in Western Australia, but holding at a high level as strong residential building compensates for weakness in non-residential construction.

    Tasmania’s building and construction industry recorded a welcome lift of 600 jobs, up 3.4 per cent through the year, thanks to a “long-awaited revival in fortunes”.

    There was little change in the territories, with construction employment holding steady in the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory. 

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