Jack Quann
Jack Quann

09.30 11 May 2020


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A new report suggests the coronavirus pandemic has seen a collapse in construction activity.

The Ulster Bank Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index  (PMI) fell to just 4.5 in April.

This is well down on the reading of 28.9 in March, and by far the lowest since the survey began in June 2000.

The bank says index readings above 50 signal an increase in activity on the previous month, and readings below 50 signal a decrease.

construction activity Source: Ulster Bank

The seasonally adjusted index is designed to track changes in total construction activity.

Respondents indicated that the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown had been behind the fall - with the shutdown of sites and businesses widely mentioned.

Around 93% of panellists reported that activity had fallen during the month.

construction activity Source: Ulster Bank

Simon Barry is chief economist at Ulster Bank.

"The headline PMI index fell from 28.9 in March to an unprecedentedly-low level of just 4.5 in April, easily surpassing the previous all-time record low of 25.7 reached at the height of the global financial crisis.

"The vast majority of survey respondents (nearly 93%) reported a reduction in business activity from March, reflecting widespread site closures in response to the COVID-19-related public health restrictive measures.

"The detailed results reveal the breadth of the decline, with around 95% of respondents reporting a fall in commercial activity, while 93% of respondents reported a drop in housing activity."

Forward-looking elements of the survey also pointed to widespread weakness in April.

Notably, 83.5% of firms reported declines in incoming new business flows, with the collapse in actual and prospective activity in turn weighing on staffing levels last month.

Main image: Dublin Docklands cranes are silhouetted as the sun sets behind the city in 2019. Picture by: Leon Farrell/RollingNews

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Construction Construction Activity Covid-19 Lockdown Lster Bank PMI Slowdown Ulster Bank Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index

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