Ireland’s construction sector continues to grow, though the rate of expansion eased last month, figures have indicated.
The Ulster Bank Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index, a benchmarked measure for assessing economic activity, also recorded a surging rate of job creation in March.
The PMI found that house building was the fastest growing area within the wider construction sector.
Readings below 50 on the index indicate a drop in activity, readings above 50 indicate growth.
The higher the reading the faster the growth rate.
Simon Barry, chief economist at Ulster Bank Republic of Ireland, noted that the headline index figure for the industry in March, which recorded a slowing growth rate, came on the back of a strong February.
“Irish construction firms continue to experience rapid growth in their activity levels, according to the latest results of the PMI survey,” he said.
“A decline in the headline PMI index, from 60.5 to 55.9, indicates that the pace of expansion did ease back in March.
“However, this follows a very strong February performance and the still-robust level of the PMI signals that Irish construction continues to expand at a solid rate.
“Mirroring the pattern of the headline PMI, the sectoral sub-indices also painted a picture of moderating growth in March, though the housing and commercial indices both remain at levels consistent with ongoing solid activity growth, particularly so in the case of housing which was the fastest-growing category for a third month in a row.
“Encouragingly, respondents reported a marked pick-up in the pace of job creation, with the employment index rising to a very elevated reading of 59.6 in March, matching a nine-month high.
“The demand for construction workers continues to be underpinned by new business which continued to rise solidly in March, though at a slightly slower pace than the very rapid rate recorded in February.
“Furthermore, firms themselves remain optimistic about the coming year, with 43% of respondents anticipating higher output levels over the year ahead, with expectations of stronger customer demand cited as an important source of support.
“However, sentiment about the sector’s prospects did moderate slightly in March.
“This was amid reports from respondents that Brexit risks and uncertainties are weighing on perceptions of the construction outlook, albeit that the March PMI survey results indicate that construction continues to outperform both manufacturing and services where Brexit risks are more pronounced.”