Construction impacts of COVID becoming clearer

Non-Residential Building has suffered from a sharp decline largely driven by less building activity if the education, health, and commercial sectors, but there is hope that government investment and renewed business confidence can produce a rebound in 2021-22.

The Australian Construction Industry Forum (ACIF) has released the latest edition of its construction market forecasts, which are published twice annually in May and November.

This is the first Construction Market Report in a year that provides a comprehensive overview of the building and construction industry, as disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have previously prevented the ACIF from issuing reports as detailed and accurate as those of past years.

The industry has been heavily impacted by COVID-19, with the report highlighting the “stop” and “go” nature of building and construction work this year. Measures taken to control the spread of the virus have resulted in the hold up and deferral of several new building projects. 

The forecast indicates that building work will fall significantly across 2020-21 in several sectors, including Accommodation (down 34%), Entertainment and recreation, (down 23%), Retail/wholesale trade (down 17%), Education (down 11%), and Health and Aged care (down 4%).

While work done in Residential Building has halted over the last few years, the report expects that it will reach the bottom of the current downturn by the end of 2020-21, with work done projected to rise again from this point onward.

Unfortunately for AMCA members, Non-Residential Building has suffered severely due to COVID-19, with social distancing requirements and other restrictions related to the pandemic causing a significant pause and decline in the building activities of the Education, Health, and commercial sectors.  

The report outlines that Non-Residential Building work is not expected to recover until 2022-23 and beyond, although there is hope that commercial building activity will bounce back when offices are once again occupied and as the economy adjusts to “COVID normal.”

In more positive news, the forecast expects that the construction industry will experience an increase in work in 2020-21, as Commonwealth and State Governments have stepped up their infrastructure development plans in response to this year’s economic disruption. If governments are able to put their plans into action, construction work in bridges and railways are projected to lift by 15%, and water, sewerage, electricity, and pipelines by more than 20%.

AMCA members can access the full Construction Market Report as part of their AMCA membership. Please contact your local AMCA representative for more information.

About ACIF Forecasts

Twice annually, the Australian Construction Industry Forum (ACIF) publish a series of detailed economic forecasts for the building and construction industry.

Overseen by ACIF’s Construction Forecasting Council (CFC) and produced by one of industry's leading economists, these forecasts have developed a reputation for providing decision makers with reliable and highly accurate data with which to plan, as well as a big picture overview of Australian market trends.

Key features include:

  • Released twice annually (May and November)
  • 10-year outlook
  • Residential building, non-residential building and engineering construction work
  • Public and private sector projects 
  • Over 6,000 major projects captured
  • Based on credible sources including ABS, CoreLogic and expert economic reports
  • Scrutinised by a panel of economists and industry experts from finance, housing, commercial property and more.

Forecasts are published in the Australian Construction Market Report and are also available via the ACIF Customised Forecasts Dashboard, which allows users to filter data based on a variety of parameters including their preferred market segment and locality. 

Options for data analysis include:

  • Building and construction work—forecast and actual
  • Construction costs
  • Labour requirements
  • Over 20 work different types
  • Locations by states and/or capital cities


ACIF Forecasts are available to Managing Directors and other authorised personnel of AMCA member companies. If you think you should have access or require additional information, please email or contact your local AMCA representative.

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