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Builders see slow thaw after winter freeze

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Builders see slow thaw after winter freeze
Photo: DPA
16:07 CEST+02:00
This year's winter hit the German construction industry hard. And while the end of the building freeze is now in sight, a mountain of backlogged orders mean only slow recovery for the industry.

Snow, rain and cold weather lasting into April played havoc with German construction, creating a backlog of orders the like of which has not been seen for 14 years.

German building companies saw a sharp drop in the number of orders over the five months from last October to April this year compared with the same period last year, the Federal Statistics Office said on Tuesday.

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Over first four months of 2013, orders were down an average 2.9 percent on 2012. In March they fell by 9.2 percent compared to the same month last year.

Yet despite this, the figures showed construction firms had raked in €7.2 billion in profits, an increase of 1 percent. Still the German Construction Industry Association said that given the high order backlog, this increase was not enough.

This year 71 percent of all construction companies participating in the IFO economy test survey said they had been hindered in their work by bad weather lasting into April. As work was paralysed, the industry turnover dropped 6.5 percent on last year to €21.1 billion.

The association said the industry would be able to make up for the slow start over the rest of the year, given the full order books. Last month German construction firms said they had recorded the highest order backlog for any spring since March 1999.

But the bad start to the year has also affected employment – as of April this year there were 732,000 people working in building construction and civil engineering, down 16,000 or 2.1 percent from last year.

DPA/The Local/jlb

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