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Financial News: UK Construction Activity Shrinks Most Since 1997

UK Construction Activity Shrinks Most Since 1997

05/06/2020 - 06:02:00 (RTTNews)

(RTTNews) - The UK construction sector contracted at the sharpest pace since the survey began in 1997 amid site closures due to the coronavirus, or covid-19, pandemic, survey data from IHS Markit showed Wednesday.

The IHS Markit/Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply construction Purchasing Managers' Index fell to 8.2 in April from 39.3 in March. A score below 50 indicates contraction. The expected score was 22.0.

This was the lowest score since data was first collected in April 1997. The previous record low was 27.8 in February 2009.

All three main categories of construction work experienced a survey-record fall in April, with declines in house building and commercial activity exceeding that for civil engineering.

The latest lengthening of average lead times for the delivery of construction products and materials was by far the steepest on record. The decline in new business volumes was also the sharpest since the survey began.

Construction firms reported that staffing decreased sharply in April, with employees often placed on furlough until work on site could recommence.

Business expectations for the year ahead dropped slightly since March and equaled the survey-record low seen in October 2008.

Tim Moore, economics director at IHS Markit, said the prospect of severe disruption across the supply chain will continue over the longer-term and widespread use of the government job retention scheme has been needed to cushion the impact on employment.

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