Britain’s embattled construction industry grew for the first time since February 2008 last month as the sector ended two years of “relentless contraction”, according to a report today.
The latest activity index from the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply (CIPS) showed a surge in new orders helped the sector return to positive territory in March.
Its CIPS/Markit Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index recorded a reading of 53.1 in March, up from 48.5 in February, where a reading of 50 or more indicates growth.
Incoming new orders increased during March for the first time in four months and only the second time since February 2008, CIPS said.
Residential housebuilders saw the strongest growth in activity and the seventh month of expansion in a row, while the commercial sector also saw growth for the first time in two years.
But the survey also confirmed the fragility of the sector’s recovery, with another sharp decline in employment last month as redundancy programmes continued unabated.
Fears over cutbacks in Government spending also saw a drop in confidence among construction firms over future levels of new orders, although the survey showed a 15th month of optimism over new business.