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Author: Brian Green

What do the latest construction output figures tell us?

What do the latest construction output figures tell us?

Making sense of the latest construction output release is far from straightforward, not least because the revisions made this month are huge. The adoption of an interim new approach to determining the output price indices generated major revisions. The current set of data offer a range of possible stories and interpretations of what’s occurring within the construction industry. Depending how you read the data you get a very varied sense of what’s going on. Here’s a few nuggets you could…

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Just how fast is the construction industry growing?

Just how fast is the construction industry growing?

This is a question that’s puzzling plenty of experts in the field at the moment. The trade surveys suggest strong and continued growth. The official data suggests a slowdown recently. So let’s look at the muddle of data. The Construction Products Association earlier this week released the latest Construction Trade Survey, which pulls together a range of survey data from material suppliers, contractors, subcontractors and small builders. Its headline said activity had increased for eight straight quarters. Most of the…

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Examining the puzzles and concerns over the latest construction output figures

Examining the puzzles and concerns over the latest construction output figures

The Office for National Statistics output figures released on Friday strongly suggest construction is heading for a technical recession. Put another way, recorded output will need major revisions or an exceptional boost in March if we are not to see two successive quarters of decline. The data suggest output in both January and February, when adjusted for inflation and seasonal factors, was lower than for any month since December 2013. On its current trajectory we are looking at a recorded…

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Why structural demographic challenges threaten house-building numbers

Why structural demographic challenges threaten house-building numbers

Much has been made of the latest English Housing Survey that shows homeownership among the young dwindling still further. It’s a corker for the media. It has generated reams of copy in the press and numerous discussions on TV broadcasts and radio phone-ins. But it ain’t news. A bit like the “ageing population problem”, the decline in youngsters owning their own homes was evident decades ago if you cared to look at the statistics. A favoured quip is that Margaret…

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Rise in self-employment eases as construction employment prospects improve

Rise in self-employment eases as construction employment prospects improve

The latest construction-sector labour market data is encouraging, if you are a worker that is. The data show the level of employment at the end of last year was at its highest since 2009. Unemployed former construction workers are now as thin on the ground as they were in the best of times before the recession. And wages appear to be steadily improving. The earnings data suggest total average earnings within construction were up 3.6% on a year ago. As…

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Reasons to be cautious over the latest construction output data

Reasons to be cautious over the latest construction output data

Last Friday the Office for National Statistics released final quarter data for construction output in 2014. It put growth for the year at 7.4%. This, according to the official record, followed slightly anaemic growth in 2013 of 0.4%. The suggestion from these figures is that construction took off rapidly in 2014. 7.4% growth is pretty tasty. But should we believe this version of recent history? My advice would be no. I suspect when the figures are settled later this year we…

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Construction’s daunting challenge: Find one million new recruits in a decade

Construction’s daunting challenge: Find one million new recruits in a decade

Construction will see faster employment growth than any other of the six major business sectors, according to projections by UK Commission for Employment and Skills. Between 2012 and 2022 the average annual rate of expansion in the construction workforce is put at 1.4%. That compares with 0.6% for the economy as a whole (see top graph). Even when you look at the economy divided more finely into 22 sectors, construction still comes out third, after information technology and electricity and…

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Bright prospects ahead for construction. That’s the forecasters’ view

Bright prospects ahead for construction. That’s the forecasters’ view

UK construction by 2018 will have witnessed a five-year growth spurt not seen since the 1980s. That’s what is suggested by the majority verdict among the latest batch of industry forecasts. Taking Construction Products Association forecast numbers, from 2013 to 2018 the industry output will have expanded by a quarter. Only in the post-War era up to the 1960s and in the late 1980s did construction enjoy growth of that magnitude over a five-year period. This will, if it happens,…

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Déjà vu, predictability and the challenge to fill the construction skills gap

Déjà vu, predictability and the challenge to fill the construction skills gap

UK construction needs 44,690 new recruits a year for the next four years at least, says CITB following its Construction Skills Network research. Last year it put the estimated annual recruitment requirement at 36,400. The year before, it estimated 29,050. The pressure seems to be growing. Set this against the 7,280 apprentices completing in England in 2013 and the picture looks really rather depressing. It’s hard not to be maddened by the inevitability of this rapidly growing workforce problem. I’ve…

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What do we need more: people to build buildings or people to deal in them?

What do we need more: people to build buildings or people to deal in them?

Here’s a question posed by the labour market figures: Why since the recession hit do we have more dealers in buildings and fewer people building them? From the heady pre-recession days there seems to have been a 17% expansion in employment among dealers in buildings while employment among builders of buildings has shrunk 20%? That seems to be what the employment data tables in the ONS labour market data release tell us. Despite talk of a strong revival in construction,…

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