Construction site preparation statistics - NACE Rev. 1.1

From Statistics Explained

Data from January 2009. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database

This article belongs to a set of statistical articles which analyse the structure, development and characteristics of the various economic activities in the European Union (EU). According to the statistical classification of economic activities in the EU (NACE Rev 1.1), the present article covers construction site preparation, corresponding to NACE Group 45.1, which is part of the construction sector. The activities covered in this article are relatively diverse and include:

  • test drilling and boring to determine ground conditions;
  • demolition of existing buildings and structures;
  • site clearance;
  • ground stabilisation;
  • excavation;
  • earth moving and trench digging.
Table 1: Site preparation (NACE Group 45.1). Structural profile, EU-27, 2006

Main statistical findings

Structural profile

Table 2: Site preparation (NACE Group 45.1). Structural profile: ranking of top five Member States in terms of value added and persons employed, 2006

By many measures, the site preparation sector (NACE Group 45.1) was the second smallest NACE group within the construction sector, larger only than the renting of construction or demolition equipment with an operator (NACE Group 45.5). In the EU-27, there were 107.8 thousand enterprises classified to the activity of site preparation in 2006. Together, these enterprises generated an estimated EUR 50.0 billion of turnover resulting in EUR 15.8 billion of value added (equivalent to 3.4 % of the construction total).

The demolition and wrecking of buildings and earth moving subsector (NACE Class 45.11) dominated the sector, accounting for 93.6 % of value added, the remainder being accounted for by the test drilling and boring subsector (NACE Class 45.12). The site preparation sector employed 420.0 thousand persons in the EU-27 in 2006, equivalent to 3.1 % of the construction sector’s workforce.

France had the largest site preparation sector in the EU-27 with EUR 4.2 billion of value added generated in 2006 and a workforce of 87.7 thousand persons. In the majority of the Member States[1], site preparation accounted for a small proportion of the value added generated in the non-financial business economy, with Sweden, Spain and France showing the highest shares. In Spain, this largely reflected the high importance of all construction activities in the economy, while for Sweden and France it resulted from a specialisation in site preparation – as site preparation accounted for just over 10 % of the value added of the construction sector in Sweden and 6 % in France.

Expenditure and productivity

Tangible investment made by the EU-27's site preparation sector was EUR 3.5 billion in 2006, equivalent to 7.4 % of the tangible investment made in construction as a whole, a higher share than the sector contributed in terms of value added or employment. The investment rate in 2005 was 22.2 %, more than double the rate for construction as a whole, and also above the non-financial business economy average.

In 2005, the EU-27's site preparation sector reported higher apparent labour productivity, average personnel costs, and wage adjusted labour productivity than the construction average. Apparent labour productivity was EUR 37.6 thousand per person employed and average personnel costs EUR 29.1 thousand per employee, resulting in a wage-adjusted labour productivity ratio of 129.2 % (just above the construction average of 127.9 %).

Data sources and availability

The main part of the analysis in this article is derived from structural business statistics (SBS), including core, business statistics which are disseminated regularly, as well as information compiled on a multi-yearly basis, and the latest results from development projects.


Building and civil engineering projects typically take much longer from conception to completion than in many other sectors, and often involve a large number of sub-contracting enterprises with various specialisations. Construction projects are often a key factor in urban regeneration, and also in maintaining or developing transport and communication infrastructure. Nevertheless, construction projects impact upon the environment in a number of ways, notably the change in land use, the consumption of materials and fuel, the production of waste, as well as noise and air emissions.

Another characteristic of construction activity is that it is particularly cyclical, influenced by business and consumer confidence, interest rates and government programmes. The level of confidence among construction enterprises, according to the European Commission's Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs is presented in terms of a balance of positive compared with negative responses. This measure turned positive in July 2006 for the first time since June 1990, peaked in September 2006 and then became negative again in November 2007. During 2008, the fall in construction confidence accelerated and fell particularly strongly in the final quarter of 2008, such that by December 2008 the balance was down to -32.3 %. At the time of writing, with overall economic activity declining in many Member States, major public sector funding for infrastructure projects has been proposed by a number of governments as one means of stimulating activity and creating jobs.

See also

Further Eurostat information


Main tables


Dedicated section

External links


  1. Bulgaria, Poland and Romania, 2005; Cyprus, Malta, the Netherlands and Finland, not available.