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Brickies sense building upturn
Bricklayer Chris Radford says there's more work around. Picture: Mogens Johansen/The West Australian

The WA economy has received a positive result in the so-called brickie test.

Bricklayers are usually the first tradesmen to feel an upturn in the economy - and the first to suffer when things turn sour.

But the prognosis for WA's econ- omy from a range of bricklayers contacted by _The West Australian _ is expectations of a stronger market this year after a steady improvement since the last quarter of last year.

Chris Radford said the extra work had prompted him to advertise for four more subcontract workers, whom he would pay a daily rate of $300.

Mr Radford said he had lost some workers recently after they decided to go out on their own to take advantage of the improving market.

Despite the extra work, however, he said the tradesmen were not earning better rates.

The Master Builders Association confirmed the improving market, claiming the number of job advertisements for bricklayers had more than doubled since September.

MBA housing spokesman Gavin Forster said there were 100 to 150 job advertisements for bricklayers every month in the December quarter, compared with a low of about 60 a month during the downturn.

Official economic indicators paint a conflicting picture about the construction sector.

Figures from the Australia Industry Group show credit growth last year was 3.6 per cent, down from highs of 10 per cent, which does not bode well for construction projects. But the Urban Development Institute said residential land sales had hit their highest levels since the boom peak in 2006.