These are among the key findings of the latest member survey by the Scottish Building Federation (SBF).
The survey shows that more than 8,000 jobs have been lost from the industry over the past 12 months with public sector new work and the housebuilding sector performing particularly badly.
While industry confidence has recovered slightly from the middle of the year, it remains firmly in negative territory, scoring minus 27. Those employers that are gloomier about their prospects over the next 12 months continue to outnumber those that are more optimistic by a factor of more than three to one.
Expectations for publicly funded construction activity in 2013 are bleak, with a significant majority of firms expecting new orders to decline across all categories of new public sector work. Most survey respondents said that they expect to reduce their workforces next year. SBF chief executive Michael Levack said that 2013 was likely to be another difficult year for the Scottish construction sector: “There’s strong evidence here to suggest public sector investment in construction projects has fallen back significantly over the past year. What’s more, our members expect this trend to continue into 2013.
“By direct comparison, the private sector is generating more new orders than the public sector. But those firms reporting increased new orders from the private sector are still substantially outnumbered by those who have seen private sector orders decline over the past 12 months as well.
“Overall, output across all sectors of the industry appears to be shrinking or remaining static. The starkest effect of this continued decline is on the number of people employed by the industry as a whole, which we estimate to have fallen by more than 8,000 in the past year. If employers’ predictions of continued falling demand in 2013 prove accurate, we could see this loss of jobs and capacity accelerate in the months ahead.”