Northern Ireland

Construction Employers Federation decry fall in NI jobs

Construction jobs
Image caption The CEF said the government should invest in construction's "multiplier effect"

Up to 26,000 construction jobs have been lost in Northern Ireland since 2007, in an industry slump that has cost the local economy £2bn, government figures have revealed.

After the figures were released on Thursday, the Construction Employers Federation (CEF) warned that investment in the industry was "essential".

The CEF argued that it would promote growth in the wider economy.

The group said construction alone has a "multiplier effect" on other industry.

Speaking to the BBC, managing director of CEF John Armstrong described this "unique" feature of the construction sector.

"Every £1 invested directly in the construction industry generates £2.84 in the broader economy," he said.

Mr Armstrong explained that in the example of a house, money invested in its construction led directly to further spending on furnishings, architectural and landscape design and other household products.

The CEF criticised the government's current budget for not investing significantly in infrastructure and construction.

'Urgent steps'

After the election, Mr Armstrong said he was asking the government to take "very urgent steps" to redress the situation.

"Construction activity generally, general construction, civil engineering and housing, have a vital, dynamic effect on getting an economy going," he said.

Government figures show that 2010 construction output in Northern Ireland was £865m less than in 2007.

Coupled with the "multiplier effect", the CEF said this amounted to a loss of £2bn in the wider economy.

Statistics also reveal that employment in the construction industry has fallen by 26,000 from a high of 84,000 in 2007.

The CEF warn that 10,000 more jobs could be lost unless the new government takes preventative action.