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  • Glenigan data shows that in total £13.2bn worth of main construction contracts were awarded in the first quarter of the year. This was 27% higher than a year previously and up 22% from the final quarter of 2013. The strongest growth in awards was seen in the private housing and commercial sectors.
  • JRL Group topped Glenigan’s March Contractors league table, due largely to its contracting division Midgard winning the contract for a £235m redevelopment of Brighton Marina.

  • The UK unemployment rate fell to 6.9% in the three months to February, according to ONS estimates. Over half of the 239,000 newly employed were self-employed, possibly reflecting a lack of opportunities in the job market. Separate research by Ipsos Mori for the Resolution foundation found that 28% of people entering self-employment over the last five years would prefer to be employees, and 27% said they had become self-employed because of a lack of alternatives. However the uptick is also likely to reflect an upturn in the construction sector, which has a relatively high proportion of self-employees.
  • UK average weekly earnings, including bonuses, were 1.7% higher than a year ago in the three months to February to 2014. Wage rises were level with February’s inflation rate of 1.7%, following five years of falling real wages. Consumer price inflation fell further in March to 1.6%, the lowest level since October 2009. 
  • The number of British companies increasing their marketing spend grew at the fastest rate for 14 years, according to the IPA Bellwether report. A net balance of 20.4% of companies responding to the survey reported an increase in advertising budgets, a clear sign of improving business confidence and growth expectations.

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