Construction industry output grew at a subdued pace in March despite increases in commercial work and civil engineering activity.

The latest Purchase Managers’ Index reveals new orders increased at their slowest pace since early 2015 when nerves ahead of the general election put the brakes on the sector.

This is being blamed on uncertainty surrounding the EU referendum and the pace of growth in housebuilding slumping to its lowest level in more than three years.

Job creation has also softened, as the uncertain outlook means companies are more cautious about hiring.

The figures for March saw UK construction’s PMI stay at 54.2, unchanged from the previous month but still above the 50.0 threshold for growth for the 35th consecutive month.

Despite major infrastructure projects boosting the sector and more than half of UK construction companies expecting business activity to rise over the next 12 months, growth output is at its joint slowest rate since June 2013.

Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply chief executive David Noble says the construction sector is “awash with caution and hesitancy” at a level not seen since the pre-election lull last year when the industry feared a Labour victory or hung parliament.

“Where the housing sector was once the star of the show, it became the weakest performer in March,” he adds.

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Evening Standard

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