Despite moderating, growth remained elevated in the Irish construction sector during August, new figures show today.

The Ulster Bank Construction Purchasing Managers' Index - which tracks changes in total construction activity - showed a reading of 58.3 in August.

This was down from 60.7 in July but still pointed to a sharp monthly rise in construction activity, which has been expanding for the past five years in a row. Any figure over 50 signals growth.

Ulster Bank noted that activity on residential projects increased at the fastest pace of the three categories covered by the survey - housing, commercial and civil engineering.

But it added that while the rate of expansion was substantial, it weaker than seen in July. 

The rate of growth in commercial activity also eased and was the slowest in the year-to-date, but remained marked nonetheless, while civil engineering activity rose for the second month in a row.

As has been the case for the past five years, construction firms increased staffing levels in August with companies saying that hiring reflected rising workloads.

Meanwhile, sentiment about the 12-month outlook remained strongly positive in August. 

Almost 60% of survey respondents predicted a rise in activity, with new work on housing projects cited as a factor expected to continue to support the sector's ongoing expansion.

Simon Barry, chief economist at Ulster Bank, said while the headline PMI eased back from what was an extremely elevated reading in July it still signaled ongoing rapid gains in activity.

"While the Housing PMI pulled back a bit from what was one of its strongest ever readings last month, this month's reading of 60.3 continues to point to very rapid expansion.

"It suggests that robust growth in housing output is being sustained though the third quarter following growth of over 30% year on year in housing completions in the first half of the year," he added.