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Construction businesses starting to multiply after dramatic drops in 2013

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The number of people running businesses in the construction industry rose slightly in the year to February 2014, following a dramatic drop in the previous year.

Around the country, 242,500 people ran construction industry businesses in February 2014, 0.5% more than at the same time last year, according to the Bankwest Business Trends Report, which analysed Australian Bureau of Statistics labour force data.

The increase coincided with a rise in dwelling approvals, with the Australian Bureau of Statistics reporting a 23.2% increase in dwelling approvals over the year to February 2014. However, approval rates have slowed since then with the latest ABS data revealing a 5.6% drop in approvals from March to April, following a 3.5% decline between February and March.

The increase in the number of construction sector businesses came as a result of growth in Victoria and Queensland, the Bankwest Report found.

There was a 9.8% increase in the number of workers running construction industry businesses in Victoria over the year.

“Victoria is a much sought-after place to live, with trends showing that more Australians are moving into the state every year. That has huge implications for development which has helped deliver significant growth in the construction industry,” said Bankwest executive general manager of business banking Sinead Taylor.

In Queensland, 49,600 people ran their own construction industry business in February 2014, up 1.5% compared with the same time in 2013. This was still 23.5% lower than five years ago.

The establishment of 1200 new construction businesses in the year to February 2014, did little to make up for the 21,250 drop in the number of construction sector businesses over the previous year.

While the construction industry still accounts for the largest number of business owners around the country, with 23.9% of workers who run their own businesses engaged in that sector, numbers are down by 12.4% over the past five years and 2.8% over the past decade.

The number of construction industry business owners in Western Australia fell by 4% in the year to February 2014. In NSW, there were 2.8% fewer business owners in the sector, while in South Australia there was a 1.4% decline in construction sector businesses.

More young people established construction sector businesses in the year to February 2014 with an additional 2,280 workers aged 15-24 running their own construction businesses. That represented an increase of 18.1% compared with the year before.

Across all sectors, 1,160,300 people ran their own business in February 2014, either as an own account worker or an employer. That was down by 6% compared with five years earlier, the Bankwest Report showed.

This story first appeared on Property Observer.

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