Pace of construction activity accelerates
The pace of construction activity in Ireland last month experienced its sharpest rise since June, figures released this morning show.
The Ulster Bank Construction Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) shows that activity in the sector accelerated across residential, commercial and infrastructure segments.
The headline PMI index hit 58 in December, up from a reading of 56.7 in November. Any figure above 50 indicates expansion, while any figure below indicates contraction.
Simon Barry, chief economist for the Republic of Ireland at Ulster Bank, said that construction firms experienced "strong, and faster rates of expansion in December".
"Housing was again the strongest-performing sector in an encouraging sign that residential activity continues to increase at a substantial and accelerated pace," he said.
"But the improvement was broadly based, with commercial activity also rising at a rapid rate, while there was a welcome return to growth for civil engineering after six months of declining activity."
Mr Barry added the latest survey shows that employment growth remains "solid" in the construction sector, but that the pace of hiring eased to its slowest pace since March 2015.
"A robust and strengthening pattern of new orders should underpin further gains in both staffing levels and wider activity in the months ahead," he added.
However, it's not clear if the slowing rate of new hires is a result of a lack of qualified workers or a direct decision by companies not to hire.
Mr Barry said that the construction index performance points to a "decidedly upbeat picture" of Ireland's economic performance at the end of 2017.