Better outlook for building industry in struggling regions

New ABS small area data released yesterday appear to confirm last week’s reported rebound in building approvals is widespread across the Queensland regions, and has even shown up in the struggling regions of the Gold Coast and Far North. The Master Builders media release notes:

The May 2012 regional Building Approvals figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that the 12.3% state increase is spread right across Queensland, according to Master Builders, Queensland’s peak body for housing and construction.

Master Builders Director of Housing Policy, Paul Bidwell, said total house approval numbers rose across all regional centres during May, which is a good sign that the housing sector is taking small but positive steps towards recovery.

“Mackay was once again the stand out region with a 105.7% increase from 88 in April 2012 to 181 in May 2012,” he said.

“As expected the figures confirm that regions with good exposure to the mining boom, particularly Central Queensland and Mackay, are doing well.

“We are cautious about reading too much into these positive figures as we know that at a regional level the data can be volatile from one month to the next.

“However, we are anticipating the trend to continue for the next few months as the latest two interest rate rises and the Building Boost Grant flow through the system.”

Master Builders is right to point out the volatility of the monthly data. Indeed, the data aren’t even seasonally adjusted, and to some extent the Easter period would impact on approvals in April, leading one to expect an increase in May. But the growth in May is so large that it’s reasonable to conclude there is more than a seasonal movement.

The sluggish building industry has been closely watched in the Far North, which has also suffered a slump in tourism due to the high Australian dollar. Pete Faulkner of Conus Consulting posted on the new regional figures yesterday:

Building approvals in the Far North bounce back

Also, KS at Loose Change has found a striking chart that shows the crazy over-investment in new property in Cairns prior to the financial crisis, which created a glut in the market and suppressed building industry activity.

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