EU construction output (working day and seasonally adjusted)
Although the Netherlands has passed beyond the lowest point in the construction crisis, it has not yet returned to pre-crisis levels. At the beginning of 2016, Dutch construction output was still 12 percent below the level of early 2008, when the crisis was felt for the first time across the European construction industry as a whole. By early 2016, Europe’s building production was still 21 percent below pre-crisis levels.
German and Swiss construction firms barely noticed the crisisNot in every European country was construction deeply affected by the crisis. In Germany and Switzerland, for example, construction output remained quite stable, remaining higher than before the crisis by early 2016.
In Q1 2016, Norway (+19 percent), Sweden (+12 percent) and Finland (+7 percent) reached output levels well above those in Q1 2008, although the crisis did affect output in these countries.
In southern Europe including Italy, Portugal, Greece and Spain, on the other hand, building production in Q1 2016 remained much lower relative to the same quarter in 2008. In Spain, for instance, production was 38 percent lower while in Greece it had even dropped by 75 percent.
At the same time, construction output in these two countries has seen some recovery over the past few years, unlike in other southern European countries. In Spain, the lowest point was reached already during Q2 2012, with construction output increasing by 30 percent since then. Greece’s output has grown by 32 percent since the lowest point was reached in early 2014.
Italy’s output last year was stable at 45 percent below the 2008 level. In Portugal, construction output is still dwindling and has meanwhile dropped to 59 percent below the 2008 level.
Construction output in Q1 of 2016 (working day and seasonally adjusted)
Construction accounting for over 5 percent of the European economyAcross Europe, 5.4 percent of the economy on average is in the construction industry. In the Netherlands , the industry now represents a smaller share with 4.6 percent, down from 5.8 percent in 2008. The countries with the relatively largest shares are found in eastern Europe including Poland, Romenia and Slovakia, where 8 to 9 percent of the economy’s total value added is contributed by the construction industry.
As Cyprus and Greece were hit harder by the construction crisis, the decline in their construction sector was relatively major: by 2015, the sector’s share in total value added was less than 3 percent, against 11.6 percent (Cyprus) and 7.3 percent (Greece) in 2007.
Share of construction industry in total value added 2015
More than 14 million people across Europe active in constructionThe significance of an industry for the national economy is clearly reflected in its employment figures. In all 28 EU member states in 2015, a total of over 14 million people were working in construction. Among them were 451 thousand people in the Netherlands.
Among the total working population in Europe, an average 6.3 percent work in construction. The share hovers around 7 percent in eastern European countries. In 2015, the highest share was found in Luxembourg with 10.2 percent of the labour force working in construction while the lowest share was seen in Greece (3.8 percent). In the Netherlands, 5.1 percent of the labour force are working in the construction industry.