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Construction output hiatus revised up to growth

Initial fears of a worrying stutter in construction output in the last quarter of 2013 have been dispelled following the release of more up-to-date figures for the period.

Number crunchers at the ONS have revised the figure from flat to 0.2% growth in overall construction. This was driven by a more healthy uplift in new construction output to 0.7% , while refurbishment work dipped 0.5%.

The new numbers mean that construction enjoyed three straight quarters of growth for the first time since 2010.

But it is still a long haul back to peak with annual construction output just 1.3% up on 2012, and still 12.2% below its £128bn high recorded in 2007.

Simon Rawlinson, Head of Strategic Research & Insight, EC Harris, said: “Today’s full release of construction output data is reassuring in that it shows not only that rapid growth seen during the middle of 2013 has been consolidated, but also that levels of activity across most sectors have been higher than previously reported.

“Revisions to seasonally adjusted series have added a further £1bn, equivalent to 0.9% on total output.”

There was a continuing rise in housing and some growth in infrastructure.

Commercial output lost some momentum, while the industrial sector has fallen to a new trough in the current cycle, which Rawlinson said was hardly a good sign for the rebalancing of the economy.

The rate of growth in private housing output has slowed, but at 4% is still robust and accounted over the year for overall construction growth.

New build continues to be stronger that repair and maintenance, suggesting that owners are still retaining cash.

Rawlinson said: “Looking forward, indicators of future activity suggest that growth trajectory should be maintained, although the terrible weather experienced so far during 2014 will inevitably hit output in the short-term.”

First published in Constructionenquirer 14.02.14

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