Insee conjoncture

In October 2017, the economic climate improves again in civil engineeringQuaterly survey of public works - October 2017

According to the business managers surveyed in October 2017, the economic climate in civil engineering is more favourable again than in the previous quarter. The confidence of civil engineering professionnals has strengthened: except for past activity, the balances of opinion have increased and have exceeded their long-term average even more.

According to the business managers surveyed in October 2017, the economic climate in civil engineering is more favourable again than in the previous quarter. The confidence of civil engineering professionnals has strengthened: except for past activity, the balances of opinion have increased and have exceeded their long-term average even more.

Business managers' opinion on their activity prospects continues to improve

In October 2017, fewer business managers than in July have indicated an increase in their past activity for public-sector projects: the corresponding balance of opinion has fallen back while remaining above its long-term average. The one about past activity for private-sector project is stable, remaining thus at a high level. However, business managers are more optimistic than in July about their expected activity over the next three months. Already at a high level in July, the corresponding balance has increased again and stands well above its long-term average. This rise concerns both public-sector and private-sector projects.

Furthermore, order books have continued to fill up; the corresponding balance of opinion has improved sharply, far above its long-term average.

Stronger production constraints

In October 2017, more business managers than in July have reported obstacles to production due to workforce shortage: 35% of businesses have indicated being hampered because of workforce shortage against 15% on long-term average.

More and more business managers forecast an increase in their staff size

Since summer 2016, business managers' opinion on their future workforce has increased continuously. Between July and October 2017, the corresponding balance has risen by five points.

Table1 – Public works economic outlook

Balances of opinion, in %, SA
Public works economic outlook
Mean* Jan. 17 April 17 July 17 Oct. 17
Past activity –6 13 22 41 32
- public-sector project –12 1 12 28 20
- private-sector project –11 17 17 28 28
Expected activity –14 2 16 30 36
- public-sector project –17 –9 10 19 23
- private-sector project –16 6 11 21 29
Opinion on order books –26 –25 –10 1 11
Obstacles to production increase because of workforce shortage (in %) 15 9 19 32 35
Expected workforce –15 6 12 32 37
  • Note: the balances of opinion about all customers are not the average of the balances about each customer type, because sometimes the firms do not distinguish between public-sector projects and private-sector projects.
  • * Mean since January 1981
  • Source: FNTP and INSEE

Graph1 – Activity tendency in civil engineering