Construction output begins to rise after dramatic plunge


Construction output grew by 8.2% in May following the record decline of 40.2% in April 2020, according to the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) report

Construction output fell by a record 29.8% in the three months to May 2020, compared with the previous three-month period. This was driven by record falls of 30.3% in new work and 28.9% in repair and maintenance.

The decrease in new work (30.3%) in the three months to May was thanks to record falls in most of the new work sectors – private new housing and private commercial were the largest contributors, falling by 42.5% and 29.5% respectively.

The decrease in repair and maintenance (28.9%) in the three months to May was due to record falls in all repair and maintenance sectors – the largest contributor was private housing repair and maintenance, which fell by 39.8%.

Following the large record monthly falls in April 2020 across all construction industry sectors, in May there was monthly growth across all sectors, apart from public other new work and public housing repair and maintenance.

Figure 1

‘A long way to go’

Clive Docwra, managing director at McBains, said: “After two successive months of record falls in output, the construction sector was bracing itself for more bad news – and today’s [14 July] figures reflect just how much of a historic downturn the industry is experiencing.

“In particular, record decreases of more than 40% in new housing work and almost 30% in commercial work over the three months to May highlight how essential it is that the government does all it can to get construction moving again.

“Although May saw a rebound as construction started to return to work, this is all relative, with output 38.8% lower compared with February before the pandemic hit. It will take several months for the sector to truly recover.”


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