In this month’s Tracker, Experian Business Strategies division reports that growth in the industry is expected to continue but the growth rate is set to decline over the three months to November

Contractors continued to prosper in August, with the activity index remaining steady at 60 points.

However, both the orders index and the tender enquiries index fell by two points from July, to 71 and 58 respectively.

This has not prevented a high level of optimism surrounding short-term employment prospects, with the index unchanged from July at 58. Optimism regarding tender prices, however, has decreased slightly.

CFR’s Leading Construction Activity Indicator, which provides a short-term forecast of activity levels in the construction industry, indicates continuing growth in construction activity over the next three months, although the growth rate is set to decline over that period.

According to Experian’s latest forecasts, growth in the UK construction industry is forecast to be about 3.4% in 2004, a similar rate to GDP. It is then predicted to moderate to 2.5% in 2005, slightly lower than GDP growth, before dropping to 1.9% in 2006. The public sector is expected to initiate most of the growth over the forecast period, with both the housing and non-residential sectors likely to see very robust rises in output. Private housebuilding is also forecast to have another good year in 2004, but a weaker housing market from 2005 is likely to constrain growth thereafter.

On the regional front, the strongest growth in activity levels last month was in East Anglia. Order books were strongest in northern England.

This an extract from the monthly Focus survey of construction activity undertaken by Experian's Business Strategies division on behalf of the European Commission as part of its suite of harmonised EU business surveys. The full survey results and further information on the Experian Business Strategies division's forecasts and services can be obtained from 0870-196 8263 and

The survey is conducted monthly among about 800 firms throughout the UK and the analysis is broken down by size of firm, sector of the industry and region. The results are weighted to reflect the size of respondents. In addition to the results published in this extract, all of the monthly topics are available by sector, region and size of firm.

Quarterly questions also seek information on materials costs, labour costs and work in hand.

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