The latest survey by Experian Business Strategies shows that employment prospects hit a 2006 high in September, while orders and tender enquiries looked healthy for the third month in a row, particularly in the non-residential sector

01 The state of play

The construction industry is enjoying an unprecedented stretch of growth and, according to official statistics, output has been rising for more than a decade. Participants in Experian Business Strategies’ monthly contractor survey shared this optimism.

At the national level, September was, once again, a positive month for the industry.

The overall activity index, incorporating responses from residential, non-residential and civil engineering firms, climbed for the third month in a row. At 58, the index suggested the expansion in activity was healthy. Forward looking indicators, such as orders and tender enquiries, remained optimistic and employment prospects in the industry were stronger than in any other month so far in 2006. An index value of more than 50 indicates an increase and below 50, a decrease.

Focusing on the sectors, non-residential has been boosted by a strengthening offices market and took the top spot with an activity index value of 60. A rising residential index reflected the increasing faith contractors have in the stability of the housing market, while a six point fall in the civil engineering index reflected a slowdown in the rate of output growth in this sector.

If orders and tender enquiries are anything to go by, the non-residential sector is unlikely to relinquish pole position in the near future. At 82 and 65 respectively, both indices failed to hint that an end to its buoyancy is in sight. Employment prospects were weakest in the residential sector but remained strong for non-residential and civil engineering.