Construction is the fifth largest sector for employment in England and Wales and Essex is the region with the highest concentration of construction workers, according to data released this week from the 2011 census.
A total of 7.7% of the 26.5m people aged 16 to 74 who responded to the question of which sector they work in claimed to be employed in construction. This is 2,043,229 people. The new statistics provide welcome ammunition for lobbyists reinforcing the claim that construction is one if the country’s most important employers.
The wholesale, retail and vehicle repairs group comes out top – employing 15.9%, or 4.2 million – followed by human health and social work, 12.5%; education, 9.9%; and manufacturing, 9.9%.
Broken down by gender, for men construction moves into second place as the sector employing the second largest percentage of men at 12.8%, behind the wholesale and retail group. Only 2% of women, or 248,900, claim to work in the construction sector.
The statistics are also broken down regionally. For men and women together, the top slot is taken by Essex where 10% say they work in construction, followed by Kent, 9.7%; and east Sussex at 9.4%.
In 2011 there were more people with Level 4 or above qualifications, that is a Bachelor’s degree (27%, 12.4 million), than people with no qualifications (23%, 10.3 million).
The occupation with the highest number of respondents was the professional group (17%, 4.6 million), with process, plant and machine operatives at the opposite end of the scale (7%, 1.9 million).
Economic activity as collected by the 2011 Census is not directly comparable with 2001 survey, says the ONS. It says it will publish analysis in 2013 to help users to understand how these estimates have changed in the 10-year period.