Big rise in construction employment

There was a near-record rise in construction employment as companies responded to greater workloads in January while the rate of input cost inflation quickened to the sharpest since February 2007, according to the latest Ulster Bank Construction PMI report.

The report found activity in the construction sector continued to rise sharply in January on the back of higher new orders.

The Purchasing Managers’ Index, which is a seasonally adjusted index designed to track changes in total construction activity, posted 55.7 in January to signal a further marked monthly increase.

However, it was down from 58.9 in the previous month, signalling a slower pace of expansion for the third month running.

Simon Barry, chief economist at Ulster Bank in Ireland, said: “Irish construction activity continues to grow at a healthy pace.

"The headline PMI index remained comfortably in expansion territory in January, albeit that the pace of growth eased for the third month running consistent with a modest loss of momentum early in 2017 after a robust end to last year.”

He said residential activity remains a particular bright spot and was very encouraging.

“Housing activity continuing to rise at a rapid pace, while commercial activity also very much remains in expansion mode, though the pace of growth has eased in recent months.

“Civil engineering continues to lag behind the other sectors, with respondents reporting a third consecutive monthly decline in activity,” he said.

He cautioned on further evidence of building cost pressures, with the rate of input cost inflation at its quickest in almost 10 years.

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