Construction activity in Ireland rose sharply in March, despite the disruption caused by the severe weather conditions.
This comes from Markit’s Ulster Bank Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI). Although the seasonally adjusted index, which tracks Irish construction activity and output was down from the 59.2 recorded in February, the rate in March was 57.5.
Although slightly weaker activity, the figure is well above the no-change average of 50.0 and considering the disruption caused because of the heavy snow, this is a significant achievement for the construction industry.
The weather was so severe during this time that it led to a number of sites shutting down for days because work simply could not be undertaken, or people couldn’t make it to sites.
In that context, the construction activity recorded is extremely positive indeed. Respondents put the increase in output down to greater new projects.
In terms of the sub-sectors, all performed relatively well; housing activity eased ever so slightly, from 61.0 to 60.3, and commercial activity fell from 59.3 to 58.0. However, both performed strongly and enjoyed strong output in March.
Civil engineering output was at the weakest level of the three, but was the only sub-sector that increased in March – up from 52.7 to 53.5.
All of this paints a positive picture for the sector. In addition, new orders rose at a sharp pace, as new tenders were secured thanks to “strong market conditions.”
Despite the poor weather’s impact on activity, the industry is optimistic about long term prospects which saw organisations in the sector increase their staffing levels, which saw job creation rise to a level not seen for seven months.
Optimism for the coming year is practically the same as the eight-month high recorded in February; construction sector companies believe that the improving business conditions and improvements to the wider Irish economy are reasons why confidence remains for the future of construction.