I was quick out of the blocks this morning keen and eager to get my hands on the latest construction output figures. Sad really, but it keeps me happy. Until this morning that is.
Hot on 9:30 I downloaded the press release. Here is the release. oec1208a.pdf
It showed construction down 1%. That was more than expected.
I did a bit of mashing of figures and found the spreadsheet data didn't match the press release.
I spoke to the ever helpful Noble Francis at the Construction Products Association, well it was more like a rant on my part.
This was a genuine mystery.
But the bigger mystery came when I followed Noble's suggestion and went back to the website to find a new press release posted. Here's that release.oec1208b.pdf
This new release showed construction more or less flat in the third quarter.
Call me picky, but there is a bit of a difference between a 1% quarter on quarter fall and output remaining flat. Had the powers that be prepared two versions of the truth?
But for those pedantic about recession being two successive quarters of negative growth, we are now technically in a recession as an industry. As Noble pointed out to me, we are in recession by the value of one moderately-sized contract.
So if you see any stories saying that construction has plunged - well now you will understand why.
I have a call in to the ONS to find out just what happened. If the answer casts any interesting light I will let you know.
There are positives if you choose to see them in the numbers, not that I am convinced by them. They do suggest excellent news on productivity - unless of course all those redundancies and layoffs never really happened and I just read the wrong press releases.
Anyway I am going to look in a bit more depth at the "corrected" set of data and try to figure out just how the private housing repair maintenance and improvement workload remains so buoyant when we are told everyone is broke. If anyone can furnish me with a good answer it would be most appreciated.