New figures show that the pace of growth in the construction sector picked up in July as COVID-19 restrictions continued to ease.
The Ulster Bank Construction PMI, which measures activity in the sector, rose to 53.2 from 51.9 in June. Any figure above 50 indicates growth, and the index has now been above that mark for two months in a row.
The recovery was led by housing activity, which recorded the strongest figure of 57.8. Commercial activity grew only marginally, however, while activity on civil engineering projects fell further, with a figure of just 42.1.
“Overall, the pick-up in the July PMI is an encouraging sign that the recovery in construction activity regained some further growth momentum early in the second half of the year,” said Ulster Bank economist Simon Barry.
He also pointed to a pick-up in new orders and an improvement in the employment part of the index. That figure of 47.5 shows, however, that employment in the sector is still falling, though at a slower rate.
Mr Barry added that construction firms reported a positive outlook for the year ahead for the second month in a row, with confidence rising slightly from a five-month high in June.
Companies in the sector said, however, that efforts to secure materials were hampered by lengthy delays to deliveries from suppliers.