Belfast Telegraph

Construction 'sees more growth'

The recovery of the construction industry appeared to take another step forward last month, with the latest figures indicating further growth in the sector.

Construction activity increased in August - the eighth successive month of rising workloads, according to tracking data on the market.

Although the Ulster Bank Construction Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) found the rate of increase slightly slower than the previous month, experts said it was still moving in the right direction.

Simon Barry, chief economist Republic of Ireland at Ulster Bank said: "Trends in the Irish construction sector continue to show strong improvement."

Construction firms recorded sharp increases in activity on both housing and commercial projects during August despite the rates of expansion easing slightly. By contrast, civil engineering activity continued to fall, albeit at only a modest pace.

The availability of sub-contractors had declined to the greatest extent since September 2000 but the improving conditions also led to an increase in new work during the month allowing companies to take on additional staff.

At the same time sentiment reached a near-record high as optimism among Irish construction firms improved for the third month running.

Mr Barry added: "The solid improvement continues to be underpinned by particular strength in both the housing and commercial arenas where activity trends are benefiting from substantial increases in new orders.

"In turn, the solid trends in new business are translating into higher staffing levels, with the employment index recording its 12th consecutive month of expansion. Indeed, the headline PMI index itself has also now been in expansion territory for the past 12 months as the sector continues to pull away from the deep trough reached following the 2007-13 downturn.

"Moreover, construction firms are confident that the sector's recovery will remain on track in the coming year. Sentiment rose for the third month in a row in August, taking it to a near-record high, as respondents anticipate that further improvements in both the construction sector itself and the broader economy will result in further activity gains in the coming 12 months."

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