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Redundancies in the building sector at lowest level since 2008

Redundancies in the building industry fell in the first quarter of 2010 to the lowest level since the second quarter of 2008, according to figures released by the Office of National Statistics this week.

During the first three months of the year, 29,000 people were made redundant in the sector, compared with 34,000 people in the final three months of 2009.

While redundancy figures are still high and reflect the fact that the sector is still in a recessionary phase, the rate has slowed and out performed the rest of the economy, which saw total redundancies rise to 177,000 between January and March this year.

The building sector has been hit particularly hard by this recession.

A further threat to the sector comes from the comprehensive spending review in the autumn, when more details of government spending cuts are likely.

During 2009, the sector lost around 163,000 people to redundancy, including many apprentices and skilled engineers.

Previously, the construction industry had enjoyed a boom, with the number of people being made redundant in the sector falling to just 13,000 in the second quarter of 2008.

Government figures do not break down the different elements of the industry to identify redundancies in building services.

Despite the general industry woes, the specialist building services sector actually increased the number of people it employed, according to data from the HVACR Index, available at HVNplus.co.uk.

Companies in the building services sector employed over 160,000 people, the HVACR Index shows - an increase of around 1,000 people from a year earlier.

Further details of the numbers employed in the industry will be available next month, after the ONS updates figures.

Recently, the Federation of Master Builders also released its employment report, which showed that smaller companies have been faring better than other firms.

While the number of people employed has continued to decrease, the rate of decline has slowed recently.

Within the specialist employers, 19 per cent of those surveyed said they were taking on staff. Giving some hope to the sector, many employers also said they were expecting to hire more staff in the future.

There had previously been some hope that the sector had left the recession behind it, after returning to positive growth at the end of 2009. This was short lived, however, as further negative data confirmed the return to growth did not last.