Australian construction celebrates year of expansion

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The Australian construction industry has rounded out 12 consecutive months of expansion, according to the latest Australian Performance of Construction Index figures.

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The survey, compiled by the Australian Industry Group and the Housing Industry Association, gave an overall reading of 54.3 points for the month of January (readings above 50 indicate growth). This is an increase of 1.5 points over December, indicating the industry is expanding at a faster rate.

"January marked a full year of monthly growth in Australia's construction sector," Ai Group head of policy Peter Burn says. "Activity lifted across the industry, with the strongest contribution coming from commercial construction.

"House builders and engineering constructors also reported healthy gains while apartment builders enjoyed a second consecutive month of relief from the falls in activity experienced over much of 2017."

The monthly survey revealed all four construction sub-sectors (house building, apartment building, commercial construction and engineering construction) expanded in January. The commercial construction sub-sector saw the biggest jump, rising 7.4 points to 58.9 points.

"Both house and apartment building activity expanded again during January 2018," HIA senior economist Shane Garrett says.

"Even though new home building activity has retreated from its peak, it still remains very elevated by historic standards," he adds.

"A considerable proportion of these new apartments have been delivered onto the rental market – helping to bring rental inflation to a 24-year low during 2017. This is good news for those who rent rather than own their homes."

In a boon for construction workers, the employment and wages sub-indices recorded strong growth over the month, with employment reaching its fastest rate (3.3 points) of expansion in six months.

"While new orders only lifted modestly in January, further employment growth is a strong sign of an industry still confident over its near-term outlook," Burn says.

"The pace of wages growth lifted again in January whereas non-wage costs also rose but at a less frantic pace than in recent months."


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