Jobs growth in the construction industry slowed during March, though the overall trend remained on an upward curve.
This is according to data from the latest UK Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) from Markit and the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS), which indicated a slowdown across the sector as a whole last month.
The headline figure for the PMI stood at 52.2 for March, which remained above the 50.0 threshold separating growth from contraction, but was lower than the 52.5 figure for February. It also marked the joint-slowest upturn in overall construction output since the current period of expansion began in September 2016.
A loss of momentum in housebuilding activity was cited as the main growth for this reduction, with the relative weakness of the housing market serving to offset the rebound in civil engineering and commercial work.
Despite this, a solid increase in employment numbers was still recorded in March, even though the pace of job creation fell to a three-month low. Subcontractor usage dipped slightly compared to the February figure, with a sharp drop in the availability of subcontractors potentially playing a role in this.
Nevertheless, sentiment in the sector remains relatively robust, with reduced Brexit-related anxiety and a resilient economic backdrop creating a positive impact on new invitations to tender. Moreover, almost half of the survey panel expect to see their business activity improve during the year ahead, whereas only nine per cent are forecasting a decline.
Duncan Brock, director of customer relationships at CIPS, said: “Now the trigger has been pulled to propel the UK out of the EU, the construction sector must keep an attentive eye on how the UK government’s negotiations will play out and whether consumer and business caution returns to hamper further progress.”