House builds show recovery is bedding in
House-building activity grew at its fastest rate in at least 14 years last month, in a sign that much-needed construction may be increasing again.
With Finance Minister Michael Noonan due to unveil Budget 2015 today, the Ulster Bank Construction Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) detailed the extent of the housing recovery, with the pace of new homes being built the fastest since the bank began the index in 2000.
The PMI measures activity in a single number. A figure over 50 indicates activity is increasing, under 50 means it is declining.
The overall index climbed for the 13th month in succession to 61.5, but that was only fractionally higher than the 61.4 recorded in August.
For house-building, however, the index jumped sharply, from 63.7 to 68.4.
News that the house-building sector is seen as growing rapidly will be especially welcome given the ongoing concerns about the shortage of suitable houses and apartments, particularly in the Dublin region.
By some estimates the capital will need about 9,000 new homes every year until 2019, though little more than 1,100 were built last year.
Ulster Bank chief economist Simon Barry said the report was evidence of the continuing recovery in construction.
"Total activity has now recorded increases in each of the past 13 months," he said.
"Of particular note in the latest results is the fastest rise in housing activity in the survey's 14-year history.
"This is an encouraging sign that sustained, and badly-needed, increases in residential activity are now beginning to take hold.
"The latest results also point to further sizeable advances in commercial activity."