AN Australian Bureau of Statistics report on Western Australian Statistical Indicators has forecast continuing strength in the housing sector and revealed the underlying importance of the construction industry to the WA economy.
The report says the construction industry contributed 8.1 per cent, or $6,659 million, to the Gross State Product and employed 8.1 per cent, or 77,900, of the State’s total workforce during the 2002-03 period.
These figures make it the fourth largest contributor to the GSP behind mining (20.2 per cent), property and business services (10 per cent) and manufacturing (9 per cent).
In percentage terms the WA construction industry contributed more to the GSP than the Australian construction industry contributed to the gross domestic product in each of the five years from 1998 to 2003.
The growth in the value of construction in WA over the past five years has been mainly driven by engineering construction.
In 2002-03 engineering construction accounted for just more than half the total construction activity, reflecting the increase in mining activity and the high value of engineering construction on roads, highways and subdivisions in the State.
Residential building recorded the next largest increase in value over the five-year period, increasing by 40.6 per cent, or $883.6 million. In 2002-03 residential building activity accounted for 33.7 per cent of construction activity in WA, which was lower than the 44.6 per cent national level.
Despite a 32.3 per cent increase in the value of non-residential building activity in this period, its share of the total construction activity fell. Nationally, non-residential building activity increased by 4.6 per cent in the five years.
Overall the ABS report forecast a positive outlook for the construction industry in WA for 2003-04. The Housing Industry Forecasting Group anticipates about 19,000 new dwelling commencements in 2003-04, slightly below the 2002-03 figure of 20,558 dwelling starts.
Housing activity is expected to remain strong during this period, largely due to delays in the availability of materials and labour, which have resulted in the lengthening of the supply pipeline.