It may not qualify as a boom, but if the latest figures are anything to go by, domestic conditions in Canada for both construction firms and the manufacturing companies that supply them are actually doing relatively well.
The latest price index data for non-residential building construction indicates that firms have been able to lift prices by 0.6 per cent in the June quarter, and that prices are up 3.1 per cent compared to one year ago and 6.4 per cent compared to the June quarter of 2010.
That may not sound like much, but in an environment where governments around the world are pulling back on public sector building investments and private projects are battling to secure backing amid tight financing conditions, any rise at all is a positive sign.
Add in the improving residential sector and the strong conditions in civil construction, and the overall picture is enough to make building firms in much of the developed world envious.
To be sure, large parts of the increase have simply reflected higher costs, especially in the area of wages which, as of June, were up 2.5 per cent year over year. Even allowing for this, however, the figures still indicate that profit margins are at least holding steady, if not growing slightly.
Add in the seemingly faster pace at which new work is coming in, and the picture is not bad at all by the standards of most of the developed world.
Beyond the builders, there are manufacturers – those who supply goods and equipment to construction firms. While an overall picture of conditions is not easy to gauge, recent figures from Statistics Canada on steel and cement production are encouraging.
At 208,100 metric tonnes, the volume of steel piping and tubing produced in the country throughout the month of June was up 3.5 per cent compared to one year ago; deliveries, meanwhile (234,100 metric tonnes) are up by more than one fifth.
Cement production, too (1,239 metric tonnes), is up 6.7 per cent year over year.
Granted, these aren’t booming conditions. But in a world of weak steel demand, they are certainly passable.
Builders in Canada are not exactly experiencing a boom. But compared to much of the developed world, neither they nor the manufacturers who supply them are doing badly.