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New home building to suffer in wake of COVID-19

New home building is forecast to fall by almost 50 per cent, putting half a million jobs at risk over the next year.

According to HIA, the industry engaged more than one million people to commence building almost 200,000 new homes in 2018/19.

But Managing Director Graham Wolfe said next year they expect to start just 112,000 new homes leaving up to 500,000 jobs at risk.

“The shock to the economy from the halting of overseas migration, the absence of student arrivals and uncertainty over the domestic economy will see the market at a lower point in December 2020, than it was during the 1990s recession,” Mr Wolfe said.

He said he expected it to continue to decline through 2021, and that the shock will reverberate through the residential building industry, up and down the supply chain.

“The loss of the international students and migration creates a temporary imbalance in demand for rental accommodation,” Mr Wolfe explained.

“The 625,000 overseas students enrolled in Australian education institutions equates to demand for the past two years of apartment construction. It is not clear how many of these left in March or how many will return.

“For the past 20 years Australia’s economic growth has been underscored by stable population growth.”

The HIA urged significant and ongoing support from policymakers in Australia and amongst its trading partners, saying insufficient support risks a decade of deflation, depression and human hardship.

“This means that of all the concerns facing government right now, debt should not be at the top of the list,” Mr Wolfe said.

“JobKeeper plays a very important role in supporting workers directly impacted by industry shutdowns. The building industry has been fortunate to continue operating. “Many small builders will not be eligible for the program as the downturn will impact the sector most significantly from September 2020 when the majority of projects under construction are completed.”

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