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The construction industry says it expects up to 100,000 people to be laid off over the next 12 months, despite the Federal Government’s stimulus efforts and the recent series of interest rate cuts.

The pessimistic forecast is contained in the Master Builders Association’s latest national survey of sentiment within the building and construction sector.

The association’s chief economist, Peter Jones, says the building sector has been helped by interest rate cuts and the first home owners grant.

Nevertheless he says building activity is expected to slump further, with dire consequences for jobs.

“Master Builders expects that the job losses in the industry over the next 12 to 18 months will be in the order of 50,000 to 100,000,” he said.

Mr Jones says the survey confirms there is a drought in finance for construction projects.

“Over one third of respondents to the March quarter survey said that a lack of finance was a major constraint on their business,” he said.

“Builders are certainly exceedingly pessimistic about the outlook, despite some glimmers of hope in the residential sector, and the outlook for the sector is for a reduction in both output and employment.”

Mr Jones has used the survey’s findings to call for further interest rate cuts and more stimulus measures in the May Federal Budget, including an extension of the first home owners grant beyond its June 30 cut-off.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/04/06/2535454.htm?section=justin

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