Highest quarterly figure on record
The construction industry, currently struggling under the weight of bulging order books, got the first quarter of 2014 off to flying start with the highest total for quarterly output so far recorded according to official statistics.
Provisional figures from the Census and Statistics Department issued earlier this month show the total gross value of construction works performed by main contractors in the first quarter jumped by 12.7 percent in year-on-year nominal terms to HK$49.2 billion.
This is the highest quarterly figure so far for construction output in the department’s records that go back to 1983.
In real terms though, that is discounting the effect of price changes, the increase was 5.2 percent to HK$34.6 billion.
Looking closer at the breakdown of figures, output on private sector construction sites climbed 9.4 percent year-on-year in nominal terms to HK$12.8 billion.
However when compared to the previous quarter, output actually fell 7.3 percent.
Public sector sites also did well with gross value of output edging up by 9.1 percent to HK$18.1 billion compared with a year ago.
Unlike for private sites, when compared with the previous quarter, output on public sites climbed by 8.2 percent, exceeding the totals for each quarter of last year.
In fact the HK$18.1 billion in nominal terms for the first quarter of 2014 is the highest quarterly figure on record.
The government has been spending furiously on public works in recent years especially on big ticket items such as the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and related projects, the Central-Wanchai Bypass and the five railway extension projects of the 77 percent government owned railway operator MTR Corporation (0066).
For locations other than construction sites, such as renovation and repairs and maintenance, the value of output jumped by 19.1 percent year-on-year in nominal terms to HK$18 billion.
Separately the department last Friday released statistics that showed the vacancy rate for the construction industry in March 2014 for manual workers standing at two percent with the number of vacancies totalling 1,628.
By comparison, in March 2013, the vacancy rate was 1.2 percent with the total number of vacancies at 930.
For building sites, the total number of vacancies was 768 while for civil engineering sites, that number was 860.