Construction sector

Increased levels of new work significantly increased the output levels for Northern Ireland’s Construction industry for 2015 and offset a minor decrease in the levels of repair and maintenance.

The latest figures from the Northern Ireland Construction Bulletin have shown that overall construction output increased by 11.4 per cent from 2014 to 2015. The levels of new work increased by 17.7 per cent but repair and maintenance decreased by 2.8 per cent.

The figures compiled by the Northern Ireland Statistics and research agency gauge the quarterly performance of the construction industry in Northern Ireland, excluding projects carried out by Northern Ireland businesses outside the country.

Construction is estimated to make up around 7 per cent of Northern Ireland’s overall Gross Value Added (GVA) and is a key player in the performance of the economy. Despite a decrease in the overall output of the construction industry in the last two quarters of 2015, results for the last quarter of 2015 were still higher than most quarters over the last three years.

Since 2010 the levels of new work and maintenance and repair work have mostly levelled, however the recent statistics suggest that increased levels of new work are widening the gap once more. At the end of 2012 the volume of new work was 6.5 per cent higher than for the same period in 2014 and again one of the highest levels over the past three years. In comparison, repair and maintenance output was 5.3 per cent lower at the end of 2015 than in the same period for 2014 and a five year trend of continual improvement followed by consistent downturns has continued.

Other work, which is defined as public and private sector construction activity associated with factories, warehouses, oil, steel and coal, as well as education facilities, health centres and local amenities, continues to be the busiest sub-section of construction followed by housing and then infrastructure.

Output levels for housing consistently increased throughout 2015 but still remains lower than levels recorded prior to the economic downturn. Private housing in particular is estimated to be around 70 per cent lower than pre-crash rates and outputs show little evidence of a consistent recovery.

The volume of infrastructure work in the fourth quarter of 2015 decreased sharply by 7.0 per cent compared to the previous quarter and was 8.9 per cent lower compared with the same quarter in 2014. Infrastructure output tends to fluctuate from one quarter to the next but output in Q4 2015 was the lowest level in the last five years. Infrastructure output for the last quarter of 2015 was recorded at the lowest level for five years and was 8.9 per cent down on the same period for 2014. However, the level of other work in 2015 was higher compared to most quarters in the previous three years.

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