Construction output heads to record low

Ben Southwood
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EUROZONE construction output sank further in December, putting it at the lowest level since early 1996, excluding two apparent blips.

Eurostat’s construction output index fell 1.7 per cent to reach 80.1 in December, which is the lowest since February 1996, excepting two one-off sharp drops last February and in December 2010.

Over the whole year, output is down some 4.8 per cent across the 17-member currency union, Eurostat revealed, and since the pre-recession peak, when the index neared 110, output has crashed over a quarter.

The wider EU is also in the midst of a construction slide, the data revealed. Though output in the 27-member region is not as far below its pre-recession peak, it fell 2.7 per cent between November and December to cap off an 8.5 per cent drop in 2012.

Among the countries, Poland – a member of the EU but not the crisis- hit Eurozone – did worst, with a 23.7 per cent blow to construction production over the year.

But Eurozone members were not far behind, with Portugal suffering an 18.2 per cent hit, and Slovenia and Slovakia also seeing construction output fall by double digit percentages.

Italy keeps its data confidential for two months, while Greece publishes only quarterly figures, and its estimates for the fourth quarter of 2012 have not been released.

But the other Eurozone member hit hard by the sovereign debt crisis, Spain, enjoyed a 4.5 per cent improvement in building over the year, in spite of the tough recession squeezing the country.