Construction output increased 8% in May according to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics. The growth reflects small rises in construction and manufacturing, however, it was weaker than a 5.5% growth rate forecast by the City.
Manufacturing and construction growth during May 2020 was primarily because of the recommencement of work, as businesses managed to operate while adhering to social distancing measures.
Many services industries contracted in May 2020, citing a lack of demand from their business customers, following the earlier impact of the coronavirus.
Commenting on today’s GDP figures, Jonathan Athow, Deputy National Statistician for Economic Statistics, said: “Manufacturing and house building showed signs of recovery as some businesses saw staff return to work. Despite this, the economy was still a quarter smaller in May than in February, before the full effects of the pandemic struck.
“In the important services sector, we saw some pickup in retail, which saw record online sales. However, with lockdown restrictions remaining in place, many other services remained in the doldrums, with a number of areas seeing further declines.”
Commenting on new figures published by the ONS today which show a record 29.8% fall in output in the three months to May 2020 compared with the previous quarter, Clive Docwra, Managing Director of construction consulting and design agency McBains, said:“After two successive months of record falls in output, the construction sector was bracing itself for more bad news – and today’s figures reflect just how much of a historic downturn the industry is experiencing.
“In particular, record decreases of more than 40% in new housing work and almost 30% in commercial work over the three months to May highlight how essential it is that the government does all it can to get construction moving again.”