Irish construction firms continued to experience solid, though slower, growth in January according to the latest results of the Ulster Bank Construction PMI survey. The headline PMI eased to a 3-month low last month, but at 54.6 it remains well above the 50 breakeven level and indicates that firms continue to report solid gains in activity.
Housing was the fastest-growing category in January, with this important sub-sector recording ongoing solid expansion, albeit at a somewhat less rapid pace than earlier in the recovery. Last week’s completions data from the CSO showed that new home construction rose by 25% last year, with the full-year total of ca. 18,100 units completed representing a 9-year high. Early-year trends in the housing PMI – as well as the signals from other indicators – are consistent with further improvements in housing supply in the coming year.
Elsewhere in the survey, new orders continued to rise sharply with firms reporting an encouraging improvement in client demand at the beginning of the year. In turn, the ongoing expansion in actual and prospective activity is continuing to underpin employment in construction. Firms have continued to add to staffing levels in response to the buoyancy of demand, though the pace of hiring has moderated in recent months from the exceptionally rapid growth reported last summer.