Although business activity fell for a third month, primarily due to weak demand and a lack of new projects, the pace of decline in new orders eased noticeably and business outlook improved from a four year low.
The start to 2013 saw a dramatic turnaround in the 3 broad sectors of the industry - For the first time since last August there was a decline in the civil sector, whereas after a poor second half of 2012, the commercial sector appeared to have stabilised. The residential sector continues to contract but at the slowest for three months.
New business fell for the eighth consecutive month - the longest continuous period of decline since 2008/09. Chief executive of CIPS, David Noble, said:
"Levels of new business had been falling at a worrying pace and this decline appears to have stabilised to some extent; perhaps this is one of the reasons employment has grown for the first time since September. Like much of the sector, however, staff numbers remain below the long-term average and we expect this trend to continue across the board."Despite the continued drop in output and orders, confidence levels are at the highest since July 2012, a vast improvement on the almost four-year low recorded in November 2012. Survey respondents also reported higher construction workforce numbers for the first time in four months.
If the civil sector pulls itself back together in February, maybe 2013 will finally bring the turnaround this economy is dying to see!