The Federation of Master Builders

State of Trade Survey

State of trade report Q3 2019 covershot.PNG

Latest State of Trade Survey

State of Trade survey Q3 2019 (PDF, 2.26MB)

Tracking developments in the UK construction industry

For more than 20 years, the FMB's State of Trade Survey has monitored key indicators and predicted future short-term developments in the UK construction industry. It is the only survey of its kind to focus exclusively on small and medium-sized (SME) firms throughout the construction sector. The survey is dispatched to the entire membership every quarter. Between 300 and 400 responses are received and they are weighted according to turnover.

The typical firm responding is either a general builder or building contractor directly employing ten or fewer people, and turning over between £100,000 and £500,000 per annum. Results are generally reported as percentage balances, as results from qualitative surveys traditionally are. This is the difference between the percentage of respondents stating 'higher' and those replying 'lower' to questions. The magnitude of the balance does not indicate the scale of the change. Instead, the larger the balance, the greater the number of respondents stating either 'higher' or 'lower'.

In Q3 of 2019, workloads for small and medium sized (SME) construction firms were once again on the rise. However, employment levels dipped further, following Q2 first dip in in over five years. The key results are as follows:

  • Employment levels for SME construction companies remained in negative territory for the second quarter in a row, following a five-year period of positive growth.
  • Overall SME construction workloads have remained positive with 34% reporting high workloads compared to 27% in the previous three months.
  • 86% of SMEs anticipate a rise in material prices, up from 77% in the previous quarter.
  • 56% of firms predict salaries and wages to increase which is up from 51% in the last quarter.
  • 56% of SMEs reported difficulties hiring carpenters and joiners, overtaking bricklayers (54%) as the trade that is hardest to recruit.
  • Overall expectations for future workloads came down with 19% predicting lower workloads up from 12% in the previous quarter.

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