More cranes than the USA: Australia’s infrastructure boom

The number of cranes along Australian skylines is currently higher than all of the US combined – but it’s not because we’re building more apartments.

Australia’s surging population growth, particularly across all the 5 major capital cities, has accelerated the rate of delivery for new housing and infrastructure.

However, according to the RLB Crane Index – which measures building activity by counting the number of fixed cranes in capital city skylines – residential construction is slowing down. On the other hand, work on commercial and infrastructure projects is booming.

Residential vs Non-residential building activity

The RLB non-residential crane index rose by a staggering 42% compared to 6 months prior, with an additional 56 cranes. Meanwhile, the residential index continued its downward trajectory, with a 10% drop compared to 6 months ago.

These insights are further supported by recent Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data, which revealed that the value of residential building activity fell by 2.4% in 2017, with non-residential activity growing by 7.8%.

The total number of cranes across Australian skylines has now reached a new record of 735 – a number that is more than double the United States.

Australia’s crane count eclipses the USA

Ironfish Head of Property, William Mitchell, said this data tells an important story for investors.

“What this shows us is that Australia is clearly in an infrastructure boom. We’re now seeing less and less new housing being built, and at the same time, increased spending on infrastructure projects which leads to employment and economic growth. Meanwhile, Australia’s population continues to grow at unprecedented rates, so this will ultimately put pressure on property prices, particularly in locations which will benefit most from new infrastructure projects.”

Infrastructure the ‘star performer’

Sydney and Melbourne accounted for the lion’s share of cranes, accounting for 74% of the total number of cranes. Work on infrastructure projects such as Melbourne Metro Rail has bumped the Victorian capital up to a record 192 cranes in the past 6 months.

“The infrastructure sector has been the star performer of the past 6 months,” RLB Global Chairman Stephen Mee told AFR.

“With the announcement of many significant infrastructure projects by both federal and state governments, the anticipation is for civil cranes to maintain current levels or rise further.”

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