Tracker: September 2016

Residential activity grew but the civil engineering index dropped to its lowest level since February, although the overall construction activity index remains unchanged. Experian Economics reports

01 / State of play

The construction activity index remained unchanged at 57 points in September. However, the sub-sectoral activity data shows some sharp movements.

Residential activity grew by 10 points, reaching 63. Non-residential activity increased by three points to 56. However, the civil engineering index dropped by 40 points to 29, the lowest level since February.

The orders index dropped by three points to 70 in September. In contrast, tender enquiries saw a marginal rise of one point to 56.

The residential and non-residential tender enquiries indices saw little movement as the former increased by one point to 58 and the latter declined by two points to 56. The civil engineering tenders enquiries index dropped for the second consecutive month, by 11 points to 56.

The employment prospects index edged up by one point to 55 while the three months moving average remained unchanged.

Under half of respondents (45.5%) reported zero constraints on activity, slightly down on the previous month. Approximately 28% of businesses suggested that insufficient demand was hindering activity levels, down from 30% in August. In contrast, more firms (13.6% as opposed to 5.1%) indicated finance as an activity constraint.

02 / Leading construction activity indicator

The CFR’s Leading Construction Activity Indicator was unchanged at 57 points in September, stabilising its recovery after July’s sharp drop. Over the next three months the index is likely to be around the mid-50s level.

03 / Work in hand

September results show only 24% of residential respondents reported work in hand of more than six months. For non-residential respondents, this figure was slightly down (22% as opposed to 21%) compared with three months earlier.

Around 38% of firms in the residential sector had work in hand of between three and six months while 38% of residential businesses had less than three months of work in hand. In contrast, the majority of respondents (55%) in the non-residential sector had work in hand of less than three months.

Civil engineering results showed 80% of respondents having work in hand less of than three months and 20% between three and six months.

04 / Regional perspectives

Experian’s regional composite indices incorporate current activity levels, the state of order books and the number of tender enquiries received by contractors to provide a measure of the relative strength of each regional industry.

In September the regional composite index showed most of the regions with declining indices. Yorkshire and the Humberside, Wales and the West Midlands were the only ones to see their indices rise. The first two both grew by five points, whereas the last increased by four points.

Northern Ireland and Scotland saw their indices decline by six points to 50 and 55 respectively.

East Anglia (48) and the North-east (81) were the only regions to experience no change in their indices.

Overall the UK’s regional index declined by 5 points to 41.

This an extract from the monthly Focus survey of construction activity undertaken by Experian Economics on behalf of the European commission as part of its suite of harmonised EU business surveys.

The full survey results and further information on Experian Economics’ forecasts and services can be obtained by calling 0207-746 8217 or logging on to

The survey is conducted monthly among 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. As well as the results published in this extract, all of the monthly topics are available by sector, region and size of firm. In addition, quarterly questions seek information on materials costs, labour costs and work-in-hand.

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