The number of dwellings approved in Australia rose in March 2018 in trend terms, with a 0.2 per cent rise, according to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) yesterday.

ABS director of construction statistics, Justin Lokhorst, said the strength in the total dwellings is being driven by approvals for private sector houses, which have now risen for 13 consecutive months.

"Private sector house approvals are now at their highest level since 2003, in trend terms," he said.

Among the states and territories, the biggest trend increase in dwelling approvals in March was in the Australian Capital Territory (28.0 per cent), followed by the Northern Territory (5.3 per cent) and Queensland (2.3 per cent).

There were falls in trend terms in Western Australia (6.7 per cent), Tasmania (4.8 per cent), Victoria (0.5 per cent), New South Wales (0.2 per cent) and South Australia (0.1 per cent).

In trend terms, approvals for private sector houses rose 0.8 per cent in March. Private sector house approvals rose in Victoria (1.8 per cent) and Queensland (1.5 per cent), but fell in Western Australia (2.1 per cent) and New South Wales (0.2 per cent). Private house approvals were flat in South Australia.

In seasonally adjusted terms, total dwellings rose by 2.6 per cent in March, driven by a 6.1 per cent increase in private sector dwellings excluding houses. Private sector houses rose 1.1 per cent in seasonally adjusted terms.

Meanwhile, Master Builders Australia CEO, Denita Wawn, said there has been a substantial increase in commercial activity. "There has been a 13 per cent rise in non-residential building approvals recorded over the 12 months to April 2018," Wawn said in a statement released yesterday.

She said the surge in commercial building, including the construction of offices and new facilities in the education, health and aged care sectors has been a major driver of jobs growth and looks set to continue.

“In the past year alone the industry created more than 100,000 new skilled jobs, accounting for more than 1 in every 4 new jobs created. That means employment growth in building and construction was 9.6 per cent, three times the rate of jobs growth in the wider economy,” she said.

“More than 370,000 small builders are playing a key role in kicking the surge in jobs growth along. People should pay more attention, there are more small businesses in building and construction than any other sector in the economy."

“In the residential building sector the total number of new dwelling units approved in April was 18,701, up by 1.9 per cent over the year, supporting Master Builders’ view that the trough in the housing construction cycle is likely to be moderate and short lived,” she said.



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