More than 50% of firms reported a fall in workloads in the final quarter of 2008 compared to the same period 12 months earlier.
Meanwhile 59% reported reduced order books compared across the same period. Both figures are the lowest since the survey began 16 years ago.
Preliminary works was one of the hardest-hit sectors, where there was a balance of -87% of between firms reporting a rise in work and those seeing a fall. The balance for local roads was -39%. The only sector to show an improvement was rail with a balance of +16%.ADVERTISEMENT
And the picture looks little better for 2009, with little confidence among contractors of the market bouncing back. Despite the ВЈ700m of spending on transport infrastructure that could be brought forward by the government, the balance of companies expeted a fall in workload (-32%) as well as a fall in new work (-35%).
CECA said that the results showed that the government's attempts to revive the economy through investment in infrastructure is so far not helping construction firms.
National director Rosemary Beales commented: "This is a deeply concering but not unexpected set of results. These results reinforce the fear that the action taken to combat the downturn has so far failed to make a significant impression. Investment is not translating into work quickly enough and the net result will be a reduction in the size of the construction industry unless we get more work on the ground in 2009.
"With confidence so low, it is easy to see why contractors might be forced to cut their training budgets or reduce apprenticeships. This will lead to a less efficient construction industry in future unless more decisive and positive steps are taken now by government to bring projects forward and improve workload."
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