Public works are still waiting for a little breath

The start of 2023 did not allow public works activity to regain some momentum. At most it remains on a plateau, according to the FNTP which published its economic bulletin for February 2023. A plateau which all the same leans in the wrong direction, since the work carried out falls by 2.2% on a month, and 1.2% cumulatively in January and February 2023, compared to the beginning of the previous year.

The amount of invoices, on the other hand, jumped by nearly 5% over one year, due to the evolution of production costs. And while inflation was marking time at the end of 2022, prices rebounded again by 1.2% between December and January under the impact of further increases in the cost of mineral products, materials and fuels.

Hours worked down

The trend in the number of hours worked mirrors the trend in the volume of activity. Over the first two months of the year, those achieved by permanent workers are down 0.6% compared to 2022, with the workforce falling by roughly the same proportions (-0.8% cumulative since the beginning of the year, and over one year).

Temporary employment suffers much more. In January and February, the number of hours worked by temporary workers fell by 5.4% over one year. This causes the total volume of hours worked to fall by 2.1% compared to the start of 2022.

Major projects effect on orders

Only order intake is doing well at the start of the year, growing by nearly 30% cumulatively in January and February, compared to 2022. This momentum is mainly driven by the awarding of major contracts, within the framework of major projects. While several lots had already found takers in January 2023, other markets for the construction of the new line of metro in Toulouse were also notified in February 2023. On the Lyons-Turin, two contracts were also won by Eiffage on one side, TSO on the otherfor the interconnection works at Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, in order to connect the base tunnel to the existing network.

“Signals of restarting calls for tenders are also notable from the metropolises”, underlines the FNTP. But despite everything, the federation fears that the dynamics of major projects will mask “significant disparities by profession and by region”. It therefore reiterates its call: the increase in order intake “will have to be accentuated and generalized to breathe new life into the activity”. And she’s still waiting for a “restart of public procurement (…) all the more important as the dynamic of private customers could slow down in connection with the slowdown in the real estate market”.

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