Construction in Argentina fell 3% in April year-on-year, accumulating a 2.7% decline since the start of the year, the INDEC statistics' bureau reported. Nevertheless, construction activity grew 3.6% from the previous month, according to the agency, which was partly explained by seasonal effects.
The decline of construction, which is often used as an index to estimate evolution of the economy in the mid-term, has become noticeable as Argentina is hammered by the deceleration of the national economy.
This means construction in Argentina has suffered four consecutive declining months year-on-year, January 3%; February, 2.8%; March, 1.7% and April 2.7%, when growth in 2008 averaged 4.5%. This also confirms two running negative quarters: 2% in the last quarter of 2008 and 1.7% in the first three months of this year.
Construction jobs have also dropped 7.8% in the first quarter, thus completing nine months running of loss of jobs, which is estimated to have lost since last July, 40.000 regular jobs.
According to the INDEC construction permits in the 42 most representative districts in the country increased 22.7% in April compared to the period of the previous year. Permits were also up 6.8% over March.
In the different branches of the construction industry, sales in April varied: paints were up 29%; asphalt, 23.8%; bricks, 2.7% and floors and coating, 2.2%. On the other hand cement sales were down 15.2% and so was iron, 9.7%.
Late last year, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner announced an estimated 19.2 billion US dollars infrastructure investment program, which she said would create more than 400,000 construction jobs through 2010.
Economists say such a large increase in spending and job creation is highly unlikely given fiscal constraints faced by the government. Government revenue has been hit hard by an economic slowdown and weakened demand for exports.