The supply and demand of tradespeople in residential construction remains in balance despite the coronavirus, the latest data suggests.

Releasing its latest report, Housing Industry Association said its HIA Trades Availability Index recorded a level of -0.07 in the June quarter, down from +0,03 in the March quarter.

At this level, trades are considered to be in shortage, but the level of shortage is considered to be moderate.

All up: seven of thirteen trades examined are in shortage: bricklaying, ceramic tiling, carpentry, roofing, plastering, other trades and joinery.

Meanwhile, six trades are in oversupply: electrical, general building, landscaping, site preparation, painting and plumbing.

Trades were in balance across most locations but were in shortage in regional SA and regional WA and in oversupply in Perth.

Trade prices, meanwhile, are rising, and have risen by 7 percent or more over the past year in nine of the thirteen trades.

Over the past year, prices for site preparation, joinery and landscaping are up 16.5 percent, 13.6 percent and 12.1 percent.

HIA Economist Angelina Lillicrap expressed surprise that there had been such little movement in trade availability since COVID.

Whilst the full impact of COVID-19 upon new housing demand is not expected to materialise until the September quarter, Lillicrap said demand for trades may have eased due to social distancing on site and households not feeling comfortable asking tradespeople into homes.

This, however, may have been offset by increasing renovation activity and a reduction in trade supply.

“Despite all the push and pull factors at play due to COVID-19 during the June 2020 quarter, supply and demand for skilled trades remained close to equilibrium,” Lillicrap said.

“In March 2020, skilled trades were in a very minor oversupply and in the three months to the end of June they are now in a marginal undersupply. Given the significant impact of COVID-19 during this time, it is surprising that there was such a small impact on demand for skilled trades.

“Demand for skilled trades may have eased due to social distancing requirements on site and households not feeling comfortable inviting trades people into their homes due to the risk of transmitting COVID-19.

“On the other hand, anecdotal reports suggest that demand may have increased due to a rise in small renovation activity. With more people working from home, households found it easier to schedule a skilled trades person to complete smaller jobs as they did not have to take time off work.

“There was also a reduction in the supply of skilled trades as some trades people elected not to work during this period due to the increased risk of contracting the virus or due to the closure of schools.

“The adverse impact of the COVID-19 restrictions on new home building would not have been a large factor in June. The impacts on new home building were expected to emerge during the September quarter but these are likely to be alleviated due to the Australian Government’s HomeBuilder program.”