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UK construction activity rises at fastest pace in two years

UK Construction activity by sector UK Construction activity by sector

The month of May saw sharper growth in construction activity amid further rise in new orders

GROWTH in the UK construction sector gained momentum during May, with activity and new business increasing at sharper rates than in April. Rising workloads prompted renewed expansions in purchasing activity and business confidence strengthened.

The headline S&P Global UK Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) – a seasonally adjusted index tracking changes in total industry activity – posted above the 50.0 no-change mark for the third month running in May to signal a sustained expansion in activity midway through the second quarter of the year. Moreover, the index rose to 54.7 from 53.0 in April, pointing to a marked increase in activity that was the fastest for two years.


For the first time since May 2022, all three monitored categories saw activity increase during the month as housing activity returned to growth. The expansion in activity on residential projects was only marginal, however. The sharpest increase in activity was seen in the commercial category where the rate of growth accelerated to a two-year high. Meanwhile, civil engineering activity rose at a solid, but slightly softer pace.

According to respondents, the latest increase in total construction activity reflected sustained growth of new orders. New business rose for the fourth consecutive month, and at a solid pace that was the fastest for a year as demand conditions improved. In particular, firms linked higher new orders to the winning of new contracts and the commencement of previously delayed projects.

Further increases in new orders, in some cases linked to planned marketing campaigns, are set to support continued growth of construction activity over the next 12 months. And with companies also hoping for an improvement in economic conditions and reduction in interest rates, business confidence increased to a three-month high in May.

Andrew Harker, economics director at S&P Global Market Intelligence, said: ‘The UK construction sector looks to be building good momentum as we approach the middle of 2024, highlighted by activity increasing at the fastest pace in two years during May. Particularly pleasing was the broad-based nature of the rise in activity as work on housing projects increased for the first time in more than a year-and-a-half.’


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