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Construction industry

Research guide

Published: 07 Mar 2019 Updated: 02 Nov 2023 Update History

Exclusive content
Access to our exclusive resources is for specific groups of students, subscribers and members.

Use our industry guide to find key background information, market research, import and export guidelines, statistics, legislation, trade bodies and trade publications.

The Business & Industry Guides series is produced by the Library & Information Service for ICAEW members and ACA students.

We can compile tailored key players reports, mailing lists, market reports, benchmarking reports and industry news. Our enquiry team can also research other industry-specific information, such as taxation, for you. Call us on +44 (0)20 7920 8620 or email library@icaew.com.

Trends and forecasts

Useful links

Regional crane surveys 2023
Series of reports from Deloitte on construction activity in Belfast, Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester. Includes external influences, market drivers and future outlook for construction for each city centre. Sectors covered: residential; office; student, education and research; hotel, retail and leisure.

UK, NZ, Norway to be worst hit by housing crisis
Analysis suggests that in a global housing slump, the worst hit economies would include the Nordic countries, New Zealand, Australia and the UK. Published in economia in September 2019.

Market research

Market research reports focusing on this business sector are available from a number of market research specialists. In most cases these reports are available to fee-paying subscribers or on a pay-as-you-go basis.

Some free information is available from the following market research specialists, ranging from industry news to executive summaries of the reports.

A full listing of reference products and research reports for the construction industry from Euromonitor, with a range of global, country and company level reports. Each report provides a contents listing and a useful executive summary reporting on the key trends in each country report.

Business and industry research specialists offering reports on a wide range of sectors, including construction. Report snapshots, table of contents and a sample report are available. The company also produces global industry research reports.

UK research company specialising in the construction industry. A monthly index analyses the market by region and sector.

Report from Mintel covering the UK construction sector. The website includes a summary and the option to view a contents listing

Research reports on the construction industry, examining key trends and opportunities in a wide number of countries. A summary, key highlights, table of contents and lists of tables and figures are available for each report.

Industry news

The Library can carry out industry news searches for ICAEW members and ACA students.

Statistics on the UK

Office for National Statistics

The Annual Business Survey (ABS) from the Office for National Statistics collects financial information covering UK production, construction, distribution and service industries. Statistics available include:

  • number of enterprises;
  • total turnover;
  • approximate gross value added at basic prices;
  • total purchases of goods, materials and services;
  • total employment costs;
  • total net capital expenditure;
  • total net capital expenditure – acquisitions;
  • total net capital expenditure – disposals;
  • total stocks and work in progress – value at end of year;
  • total stocks and work in progress – value at beginning of year;
  • total stocks and work in progress – increase during year.

The dataset Non-financial business economy, UK: Sections A to S includes statistics for:

  • Construction of buildings (41)
    See Section F: Construction
  • Civil engineering (42)
    See Section F: Construction
  • Specialised construction activities (43)
    See Section F: Construction

The Office for National Statistics also compiles Construction Statistics, covering output price and cost indices, international comparisons, employment data and a wide range of other statistical trends.

Statistics on Europe


Eurostat, the EU statistics hub, collates detailed Structural Business Statistics giving the latest figures for industry, construction, trade and services by sector and country. The indicators available include:

  • number of enterprises
  • turnover or gross premiums written
  • production value
  • value added at factor cost
  • gross operating surplus
  • wages and salaries
  • social security costs
  • gross investment in tangible goods
  • gross investment in land
  • gross investment in existing buildings and structures
  • gross investment in construction and alteration of buildings
  • gross investment in machinery and equipment
  • number of employees
  • number of persons employed per enterprise.

Statistics within the database are available for:

  • Construction of buildings (F41)
  • Civil engineering (F42)
  • Specialised construction activities (F43)

See database section ‘SBS – industry and construction’.

Statistics on the Americas

Associated General Contractors of America

The Associated General Contractors of America compile construction data, including statistics on:

  • Construction by state
  • Employment
  • Construction spending

Global statistics


The UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) collects and compiles industrial statistics known as INDSTAT, which give information on:

  • number of employees
  • number of establishments
  • output
  • value added
  • total wages and salaries.

Statistics by country are available for:

  • Builders' carpentry and joinery (2022)
  • Cement, lime and plaster (2694)
  • Structural metal products (2811)
  • Machinery for mining and construction (2924)

UN Industrial Commodity Statistics Database

The UN provides statistics on the quantity of goods produced by country in the Industrial Commodity Statistics Database.

Figures are available for:

  • Tools for working in the hand, pneumatic, hydraulic or with self-contained non-electric motor (44)
  • Mechanical shovels, excavators and shovel loaders (44)
  • Bulldozers, self-propelled (44)



The annual Business Register and Employment Survey (BRES), published by the Office for National Statistics, includes total employee and employment estimates for different industries for Great Britain and the UK. Figures are broken down to show full-time/part-time and public/private splits. The dataset Industry – Business Register and Employment Survey (BRES): Table 2 includes statistics for:

  • Construction of buildings (41)
  • Civil engineering (42)
  • Specialised construction activities (43)

The Office for National Statistics publication Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) includes average employment costs within this sector which can be found in Table 14. Average employment costs are provided for full-time employees, part-time employees and all employees.

The data includes average employment costs for:

  • architects;
  • building trades; and
  • quantity surveyors.

Other regions

Please see individual country profile pages for links to sources of national statistics.

Legislation and regulation


Gov.uk provides some information and guidance relevant to the construction industry, including:

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has a section on construction, which includes latest regulations affecting this industry.

Practical resources and guidance

Working safely during coronavirus: Construction and other outdoor work
Guidance from GOV.UK for those who work in or run outdoor working environments on how to open workplaces safely while minimising the risk of spreading COVID-19.

Coronavirus - Impact on construction
Information hub from Build UK collating advice and guidance for employers on COVID-19 and construction-specific issues.

UK business guides

Atom Content Marketing guides

The Start Up Donut from Atom Content Marketing provides practical information on starting up and running a number of small business types. Guides cover a range of areas including market research, current trends, regulations, products and services, promotion and pricing. They include a range of businesses in the construction sector.

Tactical and Information Packages

HMRC published a series of Tactical and Information Packages (TIPs), replacing Business Economic Notes in 2007, offering guidance to HMRC officers to support compliance activity in the department. The TIPs provide trade-based information with some explanation of key features and trading practices. However, they were subsequently removed from the HMRC website following a policy change.

The text of TIP 62 on the construction industry as published at this time is still available from the article Tactical Information Packages(TIPS) on the AccountingWeb website, however this should be treated with caution as this may no longer be the current version.

UK key players, ratios and trends

A range of reports on this sector are available to ICAEW members and ACA students via the Library.


Reports on this sector can be supplied by the Library to ICAEW members and ACA students.

UK benchmarking

We offer benchmarking reports that can be used to inform your own business strategy or help you identify value-added services to offer to your clients.

Contact the enquiry team directly on +44 (0)20 7920 8620 or at library@icaew.com for a report tailored to your own specific requirements.

Trade bodies

Trade journals and publications

Trade journals, B2B magazines and specialist consumer magazines are another useful source of news and statistics.

Further reading

Articles and books in the Library collection

To find out how you can borrow books from the Library please see our guide to book loans.

You can obtain copies of articles or extracts of books and reports by post or email through our document supply service.

Can't find what you're looking for?

The ICAEW Library can give you the right information from trustworthy, professional sources that aren't freely available online. Contact us for expert help with your enquiries and research.

Every effort has been made to ensure that the information given in this Business & Industry Guide is correct. However, the content of websites changes frequently and users should satisfy themselves that the information they contain is suitable for the purposes for which they wish to use it. We would be grateful to receive notification of any broken links at library@icaew.com.

ICAEW accepts no responsibility for the content on any site to which a hypertext link from this site exists. The links are provided ‘as is’ with no warranty, express or implied, for the information provided within them. Please see the full copyright and disclaimer notice.

Changelog Anchor
  • Update History
    01 Jan 0001 (12: 00 AM GMT)

    Risks of a global housing slowdown appear to be growing. We recently looked at how a downturn could affect global growth through different channels, including wealth effects and reduced housing investment.

    We use the Oxford Global Economic Model to estimate the potential impact of such a slowdown on individual economies. We identified high valuations and strong recent housing investment as two key factors that drive housing downturns. Among a sample of OECD countries, the most vulnerable, with high house price valuations and high recent rates of housing construction, look to be Sweden, Norway, New Zealand and Canada – followed by Australia, the UK and Denmark.

    The least risky appear to be Portugal, Japan and Italy. Importantly, large economies such as the US and Germany also look relatively low risk. Housing upturns are more likely to end as their duration increases, consistent with the notion that housing booms represent departures from fundamentals that become increasingly hard to sustain. Over a 40-year period, the median length of housing upturns is 21 quarters and the 75th percentile is 32 quarters. On this basis, a number of economies in our sample look vulnerable: New Zealand, the US, the UK, Denmark and Korea have all enjoyed long upturns above the historical median – with the first two around the 75th percentile. For economies where prices are already falling, we also find that the average downturn lasts about four years.

    So, with the exception of Italy, all the current downturns are relatively young. To model housing downturn risks, we first examine how well the cross-country pattern of (real) house price changes correlated with key risk factors during the last housing downturn between 2006 and 2013. Real house prices were clearly linked to peak house price valuations before the downturn began. The peak level of valuations explains around 35% of the cross-country pattern of real house price changes in 2006-2013. Economies with stretched valuations such as Spain, Ireland and Denmark, saw the biggest price declines peak-to-trough, while the smallest price falls were in low-valuation markets including Germany and Japan.

    We have modelled two scenarios of differing severity. A pessimistic scenario simply takes the relationships between the risk factors (valuation, recent housing investment) and house prices and housing investment in the last downturn and applies these to the current levels of the risk factors for each economy.

    In this scenario, house prices in our sample fall on average by 9% (with drops of up to 20% in some economies) and housing investment declines by 18% on average, relative to levels in our baseline forecast. The pessimistic scenario would be the second worst housing downturn in the last 40 years or so and is probably too severe: some factors that drove the downturn in 2006-2013, such as banking crises and acute credit crunches, look unlikely to be repeated. A more moderate scenario scales down the impacts on house prices and housing investment to a third of the levels in the pessimistic scenario, based on the fact that the 2006-2013 downturn was around three times as severe as the average of all downturns since 1981-1982.

    So, on average, house prices in our sample fall around 3% and housing investment by 6%, relative to baseline. We run both scenarios through the Oxford Global Economic Model between Q3 2019 and Q4 2021. The results reflect the scale of the individual country shocks, model parameters such as the wealth effects embodied in consumption equations, the importance of consumer spending and housing investment in GDP and scope for monetary policy to adjust. For the Nordics, the UK, New Zealand and Australia, the level of GDP in 2021 is 0.5%-0.7% lower, relative to our baseline forecast in the moderate scenario and 1.5%-2.1% lower in the pessimistic scenario.

    A relatively large impact in Korea reflects above-average initial housing investment levels and greater sensitivity to lower growth in key trading partners. Spain, Portugal, Japan and (importantly) the US suffer the lightest impact, with levels of GDP falling by just 0.2%-0.3% in the moderate scenario and 0.6%-0.8% (relative to baseline) in the pessimistic scenario. A key factor here is low initial levels of housing investment, in turn related to steep declines in house building in the last downturn.

    Adam Slater is lead economist at Oxford Economics.

    Originally published in Economia on 6 September 2019.

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