Construction industry growth hits 10-month low

MarkitThe UK construction industry saw its lowest growth in output since April 2015, according to the latest figures from Markit and the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply (CIPS).

February saw UK construction’s Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) fall to 54.2, down from 55.0 in January but was still above the 50.0 threshold, which indicates growth.

The housing sector experienced its weakest period of growth for over two-and-a-half years.

Residential building was actually the worst performing sector within the construction industry for the first time since January 2013.

There was good news, however, as civil engineering saw its fastest rate of growth for five months with an increase in work on infrastructure projects being reported.

Respondents said that growing economic uncertainty was a significant factor to sector’s slow growth rate with some businesses unwilling to commit to new projects.

In terms of employment, February saw the lowest rate of increase in staffing levels since August 2013.

Tim Moore, senior economist at Markit, said: “UK construction firms remained in expansion mode during February, but a loss of momentum within the residential building sector meant that overall output growth was the weakest since April 2015.

“Survey respondents noted that underlying business conditions remained favourable, especially in relation to commercial building and infrastructure-related work, but some clients had been hesitant to commit to new projects so far in 2016. Reflecting this, new order growth weakened again and construction firms were the least optimistic about their year-ahead growth prospects since December 2014.

“What’s different this time around is that construction companies have cut back on employment growth in response to the uncertain business outlook. Net job creation eased to its lowest since August 2013, which contrasted with the robust hiring patterns seen throughout last year.

“At the same time, input buying rose at one of the weakest rates since mid-2013. More cautious purchasing strategies can be seen as another indication that construction firms are preparing for an extended period of softer growth this year.”

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