Back in February, I depressed several hundred people in the construction and property sectors who heard me speak about the economic outlook at various events around Brisbane (e.g. Qld: hot or not?). It was reasonably clear from building approvals and engineering construction work yet to be done figures that we were heading into a prolonged downturn in the construction sector. The preliminary estimates of June quarter construction work done published by the ABS today reveal ongoing falls in construction activity across Australia. In Queensland, construction activity in June quarter 2019 was 16% lower than it was in June quarter 2018 (see chart below). Nationally, construction work done was down 11% through-the-year.
The drop in construction work done has exceeded market expectations and there are now a lot of economists worried about what the June quarter National Accounts will reveal when they are published next Wednesday by the ABS. These are anxious times, domestically and globally, for economists and investors.