The hollow promise of construction-led jobs and growth

Any downturn in the construction industry could trigger job losses to a range of sectors that support the building industry, such as planning, project management, real estate and property services. This threat reveals the risk of relying on building and construction to sustain the economy.

Since before the global financial crisis, urban economies across the world have relied increasingly on the construction of housing, especially high rise urban apartments, to maintain economic activity.

Construction has boomed in Australia, especially in Melbourne and Sydney. Migration from overseas and interstate, as well as international student numbers, have so far maintained sufficient demand for city apartments and suburban houses to keep the building boom going.

Nationally the number of jobs in construction has increased from 927,000 in May 2007 to 1,110,400 in May 2017, an increase of 183,400 jobs. Even now, the federal government expects that construction employment will increase by 10.9% in the five years to 2022.

But this view is at odds with new data. A recent report by advisory firm BIS Oxford predicts that new dwellings construction will fall by 31%, from 230,000 to 160,000 dwellings in Australia, in the next three years. This prediction foreshadows a dramatic decline in construction employment. Read more

Sally Weller – The Conversation – 16 Aug 2017