In the latest sign that weak building conditions are impacting suppliers of building materials, the latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) suggests that last month’s production of pre-mix concrete across Australia hit its lowest level in 11 years.
Futhermore, in the three months leading up to January, production of plasterboard across the nation fell in comparison to the same three-month period a year ago.
According to the January edition of the ABS’s Production of Selected Construction Materials report, a total of 1.239 million cubic meters of pre-mix concrete production was produced throughout Australia in January (not seasonally adjusted). Though only marginally lower than January 2011′s production of 1,241 million cubic meters, last month’s figure was the lowest on record since 1.084 million cubic meters were produced in January of 2001.
As figures in the report are not seasonally adjusted, pre-mix concrete production in January is typically lower than in other months due to seasonal factors. Even after this is taken into consideration, however, the numbers paint a clear – and subdued – picture: at 5.171 million cubic meters, the overall volume of pre-mix concrete produced throughout the nation over the three months to January was only 1.29% higher than the same period two years earlier (see chart).
Plasterboard production is similarly down. The report shows plasterboard production in January (9.498 million square meters) was up slightly when compared to the 9.317 million square meters produced in January last year. Over the three months leading to January, however, overall volumes of plasterboard production were actually lower than during the same period last year (see chart).
These figures are the latest revealed in a series of reports that suggest the weak construction market is reducing demand for construction materials and creating difficult conditions for manufacturers of building products and equipment. Even after accounting for seasonal factors, the latest Performance of Manufacturing Index indicates that the overall volume of construction material production throughout Australia declined in January. That report showed that ‘construction materials’ was one of the worst performing areas across the entire Australian manufacturing landscape.