Construction sector free-fall gathers pace
The construction sector's woes are getting worse and worse.
The sector endured it sharpest decline in activity so far this year in March, according to the latest Ulster Bank Construction Purchasing Managers' Index. Last month's drop was the 70th straight fall.
The latest index shows the rate of decline is accelerating, with activity, new orders and employment all decreasing at faster rates. The index fell to 43.1 in March from 45.3 in February.
"Conditions deteriorated across the housing, commercial and civil engineering sub-sectors," Ulster Bank economist Simon Barry said.
The steepest decline was again seen in the civil engineering sector. Housing activity also fell markedly, but continued to post the weakest reduction in activity of the three sectors.
Anecdotal evidence suggested that falling new orders had contributed to the drop in activity, Ulster Bank said. In turn, a lack of available projects led new business to decrease. New orders fell at the sharpest pace in three months.
Construction firms responded to lower workloads by reducing employment for the 71st successive month.