Construction sector expands at fastest pace in six months

Construction sector expands at fastest pace in six months

Activity in the construction sector expanded at the fastest pace in six months during May.

The latest Ulster Bank Purchasing Managers’ Index, a monthly measure of sentiment and activity in the sector, showed the 21st consecutive month of growth.

Total construction activity increased for the third month in a row in May, posting a reading of 63.3 from a reading of 57.2 in April.

Housing and commercial activity showed a marked acceleration in activity, according to Ulster Bank chief economist Simon Barry. However, civil engineering activity continued to rise only modestly overall.

Overall confidence in the construction sector was also at “very elevated levels,” he said, with most firms reporting strong confidence about their prospects for the year ahead.

“Irish construction firms continue to envisage further activity gains on the back of a strengthening in the broader economy,” the economist added.

Today’s index shows that new orders at construction firms rose for the 23rd month in a row in May, with the latest increase the fastest so far this year.

Higher workloads also lead companies to increase both their staffing levels and purchasing activity last month.

Job creation hit a four month high, Ulster Bank noted, while the rate of growth in input buying was the fastest since last December.

Ulster Bank also said that the data showed a sharp expansion in sub-contractor usage among Irish building firms.  It said this resulted in another deterioration in the availability of sub-contractors, the strongest since November.

As demand for sub-contractors rise and their supply declined, Ulster Bank said that the rates they charged increased sharply – despite a perceived worsening in their quality.

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