Construction industry experts are scratching their heads over a Statistics Canada report which found that their sector shed 8,800 jobs last month, when they say they’re facing a wealth of openings and a lack of workers to fill them.
The government-run data agency announced Friday that its national Labour Force Survey of 55,000 households found the industry’s employment level took a 1.7 per cent tumble, decreasing to 518,700 in August from 527,500 in July.
Ottawa Construction Association President John DeVries said the data is a stark contrast from the stories of a “tight” labour market that he has been hearing about lately in the province.
“I get calls from contractors saying, ‘I am starting up a job and can’t get labourers or carpenters. There is a search for people that are experienced,” he said.
“It is hard to ramp up the labour forces real quickly, so you will hear construction people whine and cry about shortages.”
He said he was stumped about why StatCan’s data reveals a very different finding, but hypothesized that it might be because people who respond to the telephone survey and say they are working in construction are really in a different industry or only loosely working in construction.
StatCan analyst Marton Lovei said a portion of the decline was driven by residential construction and building equipment contractors, but that the downward trend was “relatively broad” within the industry.
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