The UK construction sector experienced continued growth in April 2017, resulting in a positive impact on the jobs market.
The headline reading from the latest UK Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index from Markit and the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply for the month was 53.1, up from 52.2 in March and above the 50.0 neutral mark separating growth from contraction.
Although this was considerably below the post-recession peak of 64.6 seen in January 2014, it represented the sharpest rate of expansion seen so far this year, with a strong performance for civil engineering accompanied by an uptick in residential building.
The higher volumes of new work was a key driver of job creation across the construction sector during April, with the rate of employment growth rated as the strongest since May 2016. This is despite ongoing pressure on the availability of subcontractors, suggesting that construction continues to be affected by the skills shortage currently hampering many industries.
Markit’s analysis also showed that confidence levels in the construction sector remain high, with 49 per cent of companies surveyed expecting a rise in construction output over the year ahead, compared to only ten per cent predicting a decline. The degree of confidence was down fractionally compared to March, but still well above the July 2016 nadir that came in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit referendum.
Duncan Brock, director of customer relationships at the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply, said: “With only a slight dip in business confidence from last month, the sector has proven to be resilient, so the UK government must take extra steps to ensure the general election does not knock the sector back into a period of uncertainty and uneven progression, as seen during the referendum months.”