Construction rebound resumes as output jumps 1.6%

Aaron Morby 2 years ago
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Construction activity continues its rise after a stutter in output growth at the end of last year.

Industry recovery slips back into gear
Industry recovery slips back into gear

Output rose by 1.6% in February, marking the second monthly rise in 2021, this time driven by a resurgent commercial sector.

The construction industry still stands head and shoulders above all other sectors as the fastest-growing part of the economy.

Not even a downward revision of January’s figure could take the shine off another strong month of growth for Britain’s builders.

While new work was 7.8% below the February 2020 pre-Covid level, repair and maintenance work was 2.2% above the watermark level joining infrastructure as a fully recovered sector.

What will feed growing optimism among major building contractors is the strong rise in commercial new work which jumped 4% in February.

Commercial activity rises from its slumber

Fraser Johns, finance director at Beard, said: “There is a lot of optimism around this week, and rightly so with the reopening of our retail sector and a successful vaccine rollout.

“The highest level of growth month-on-month since September at 1.6% certainly provides hope that we are heading in the right direction in terms of a roadmap out of the crisis.

“And compared to the rate of growth of the economy overall at 0.4%, the construction sector has performed well.”

Gareth Belsham, director of the national property consultancy and surveyors Naismiths said: “This jump in output would be impressive at any time. But coming in the middle of a nationwide lockdown, it shows just how well the industry has managed to adapt to social distancing rules and speaks of the deep reserves of pent-up demand.

“Dig into the data and you can see just how hot parts of the industry are now running. Output among private sector house builders has surged by nearly 141% since its low point of 12 months ago, and infrastructure work has long since soared past its pre-pandemic level.”

ONS revisions to last year


Number crunchers at the Office for National statistics have revised down output for last year.

Latest annual, all work, construction output growth has now been ticked down 1.5% from an annual fall of 12.5% in 2020 to an annual fall of 14%.

This is now a record annual fall in construction output growth since annual records began in 1997. The previous record decline was negative 13.2% in 2009.

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