Confidence within the building and construction industry has surged to its highest level since before the full impact of the global financial crisis, a survey of 386 builders across the residential, commercial and civil construction sectors in Australia says.
Published by Master Builders Australia, the March quarter National Survey of Building and Construction saw the level of confidence rise to levels of higher than 60.0 on an index ranging from 0 to 100 for the first time since March 2008 as business conditions and display centre traffic rose, profits and employment intentions stabilised and credit conditions eased even as sales continued to fall albeit at a declining pace.
Meanwhile, the backlog of work continued to rebound, with almost half of all builders reporting six months or more of work on their books.
Builder confidence is now well above the 50.0 mark separating positive sentiment from negative sentiment.
Master Builders Australia Chief Economist Peter Jones welcomed the latest results, noting that the first ‘green shoots’ of commercial construction activity were emerging and that whilst New South Wales continues to be the star performer, Victoria was now gathering momentum and Western Australia continues to perform well despite the winding back of the resources boom.
But he cautioned the underlying vulnerability of the industry remained and called on the government to continue to nurture growth and jobs whilst making the hard decisions to return the Federal Budget to surplus.
“Results for the March quarter show that we are beginning to see signs of the stronger confidence necessary to underpin a sustained recovery” Jones said.
An interesting aspect of the survey revolved around availability of labour, whereby reported challenges in finding skilled labour eased notwithstanding strong demand for workers indicated by recent ABS data – a phenomenon Jones attributes to a lag effect from the previous slowdown and says may well reverse as the business cycle continues to turn.
Site managers, project managers and foremen and supervisors were the most difficult to find whilst electricians, painters, building consultants and roof tilers were the areas in which availability was at its highest.