UK Construction industry contracted in March 2020

house building construction site

According to the most recent PMI survey, the UK’s Construction industry contracted (got smaller) in March.

What are the figures?

The PMI surveys are put together by a research group called IHS\Markit. These surveys are considered as a respected source of research that asks companies how they are doing; for example whether orders and sales are up or down. Whilst the PMI surveys are not official economic statistics, they are a useful indicator of how things might be going, and are released before the official numbers.

IHS\Markit issue an index number for each survey. If the number is 50 or higher, it means that the economy is growing. If the number is 49.9 or less, it means the economy is contracting.

Some surveys cover all of the economy, some cover only certain sectors.

The survey issued on 6th April covers Construction
• The index figure for March was 39.3
• The previous index figure for February was 52.6

This means that Construction was previously expanding in February, however in March contracted heavily. Civil engineering and commercial construction were the worst affected areas.

According to Duncan Brock at the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply;

“As measures to contain the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic were put in place across the UK, construction sites closed and builders lost their jobs on a frightening scale as overall activity fell to an extent not seen since April 2009. New orders were reduced to a trickle as the scale of the disease dawned on clients and lockdown severely hindered any further progress.
With no upturn in sight, and with the fastest level of layoffs since September 2010, the sector is stuck in quicksand and sinking further.”

Comparison

So, the UK figure was 39.3. How did other similar countries do?
• Eurozone* – 33.5
• France – 35.2
• Germany – 42
• Italy – 15.9
• Ireland – 28.9

Summary

So, although the PMI survey is just that, a survey, it seems likely that our Construction industry has contracted significantly in March 2020, a situation seen in many other similar countries.

Sources / Notes

https://www.markiteconomics.com/Public?language=en

* Eurozone countries are the 19 EU countries that use the Euro.