The end of the first quarter of 2014 saw an
acceleration in the rate of growth in Irish construction activity to the highest
since 2006, while new orders increased at the fastest pace so far this year.
Improving workloads led companies to up their rate of job creation and sentiment
remained elevated. Meanwhile, the rate of cost inflation quickened to the
fastest in three months. However, this PMI (purchasing managers’
index) panel likely includes just a small number of firms.
The Ulster Bank Construction PMI - - a seasonally adjusted index designed to track changes in total
construction activity – rose to 60.2 in March from 56.2 in the previous month,
to signal a seventh successive monthly increase in construction activity.
Where activity increased, panellists mainly linked this to growth of new
orders, while improvements in the housing and commercial sectors were
Simon Barry, chief economist Republic of Ireland at Ulster Bank, said:
“The recovery in the Irish construction sector gathered pace at the end of the
first quarter, according to the March results of the Ulster Bank Construction
PMI survey. The overall PMI index jumped to 60.2 last month as the rate of
expansion picked up to its fastest pace in over eight years. Housing activity
continued to rise sharply in March with last month representing the ninth month
in a row of expansion linked to residential projects. Commercial activity also
continues to expand briskly, while the pace of decline in civil engineering eased for the second month running.
“Also offering considerable encouragement was a further strong increase in
New Orders last month which suggests that near-term prospects for a continued
strengthening of the sector’s recovery are healthy. Furthermore, the pick-up in
both activity and new business is clearly underpinning a stronger appetite within construction firms to boost their staffing levels.
Employment rose for the seventh month in a row last month, and at the fastest
pace since May 2006. While employment in construction remains at depressed
levels following the severe job-shedding which took place over the downturn, these latest trends are an important indication that improving workloads
are translating into stronger, and badly-needed, job creation.”