The construction sector continued to struggle in March

Construction industry output down

The weather-hit construction industry has had a seven per cent slide in output on a year ago, recent figures have shown.

While the sector grew by 5.5 per cent when compared with the result in snow-bound January, the performance of firms is still down 16 per cent on a quarter-on-quarter basis, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

Construction accounts for just under 7 per cent of GDP and has contracted by 16.5 per cent when comparing the last quarter of 2012 with the first quarter of 2008.

Economists said the February result meant it was likely construction will be a serious drag on the UK's hopes of avoiding a return to recession.

Figures due on April 25 are currently forecast to show growth of just 0.1 per cent, following the decline of 0.3 per cent in the final quarter of 2012.

IHS Global Insight chief economist Howard Archer said the latest survey evidence suggested the sector continued to struggle in March.

He added: "The key question going forward is will the construction sector see any significant improvement in its fortunes after its very difficult start to 2013 and a pretty torrid 2012.

"The sector undeniably still faces significant headwinds, notably including limited public investment and spending, an extended weak economy, comparatively limited housing market activity and problems in getting funding for large-scale projects."

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