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Construction levels rise 5.5 per cent in third quarter in Northern Ireland says index

Construction levels rose in Northern Ireland in the third quarter of last year
Gary McDonald Business Editor

BUILDING work is continuing apace in Northern Ireland, with output up by 5.5 per cent in the third quarter of last year compared to 2017, NISRA's latest construction bulletin shows.

The increase in the overall output from the previous quarter was accounted for by a 7.2 per cent increase in new work and a 1.4 per cent rise in repair and maintenance.

And there were work volume increases in housing (9.4 per cent), infrastructure (6.8 per cent) and other work (2.4 per cent) compared to the previous quarter.

Neal Taylor, audit and assurance partner at business advisory firm Grant Thornton in Belfast, said: “A rise in activity of 5.5 per cent over the three months to the end of September, compared to the second quarter, is significant and provides positive reading in the latest bulletin.

“Given that the traditional July holidays fall within the period, construction levels in the third quarter can tend to be leaner, or flat, compared to the rest of the year, but that is not what we are seeing here.

“The volume was also two per cent higher than the same period in 2017, illustrating a continued upward trend of rising output that has prevailed since the end of 2014."

He added: “That said, it is still unknown how Brexit and wider political uncertainty will impact the industry going forward, particularly for large infrastructure and commercial projects, while the subdued sales expectations of surveyors outlined in the most recent UK Residential Market Survey, adds further context.”

Meanwhile data contained in the north's latest Composite Economic Index,which measures GDP, showed that economic growth was up 0.4 per cent quarter-on-quarter to September, led by private sector growth (it was up 0.6 per cent).

But output in the third quarter was still 1.3 per cent lower than a decade ago and 4.6 per cent below its peak in 2007.

According to Ulster Bank economist Richard Ramsey: "Currently activity is on a par with that of mid-2005. But there are now an additional 69,000 jobs (up 10 per cent) producing that same output.

"Private sector output was on a par with late 2015/early 2016 output, yet the number of jobs has gone up 77,000, or 16 per cent."

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