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Builders still nervous about hiring due to political uncertainty, says FMB

Small building companies remain nervous about hiring new staff and are reducing the size of their workforce, according to a recent survey from the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

The FMB's State of Trade Survey for Q3 2019, found the number of small to medium-sized (SME) construction companies reporting a growing workforce had fallen, from 19% to 15%, while almost a quarter (23%) reported they had reduced their headcount, up from 21%. 

Other results from the survey include:

• Employment levels for SME construction companies remained in negative territory for the second quarter in a row, following a five-year period of positive growth.

• Overall SME construction workloads have remained positive with 34% reporting high workloads compared to 27% in the previous three months. 86% of SMEs anticipate a rise in material prices, up from 77% in the previous quarter.

• 56% of firms predict salaries and wages to increase, up from 51% in the last quarter.

• 56% of SMEs reported difficulties hiring carpenters and joiners, overtaking bricklayers (54%) as the trade that is hardest to recruit. 

• Overall expectations for future workloads came down, with 19% predicting lower workloads up from 12% in the previous quarter.

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