Ellis Osborn, Ecommerce Manager at IronmongeryDirect, has looked at the latest government data to highlight recent successes and challenges for the sector.

As we begin a new year, it is always useful to look back to reflect on our industry’s challenges and successes, and the latest government data suggests we’re in a positive place moving into 2024, so that is exactly what IronmongeryDirect has done here.

While the value of construction output fell slightly (0.5%) in October to £15,485m, this was largely due to planned work being delayed by bad weather, and the figure is still 1% up compared to the same month last year. 

The number of workers in the sector has also risen over the last 12 months, and now stands at 2.25m, which is 36,000 more than in 2022, representing a 1.6% increase. 

The biggest increase in workforce was seen in the West Midlands, where there are now 29% more employees. The South East takes second place, with a 10% rise, and remains the most popular place for construction workers, with 350,000 in total. 

Interestingly, a significant proportion of the growth has been seen in the self-employed section of the industry. At 310,000, the current number is the highest it's been for four years, and is 22% higher than it was 12 months ago. The amount of female self-employed workers has doubled to 24,000. 

With vacancies dropping – they're currently 28% lower than at this stage in 2022 – this suggests that companies feel confident and have recruited for the positions they need ahead of the new year. 

We hope that everyone in our industry can have a well-deserved break over the festive period, and return in 2024 to a really positive situation.