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Jobs fears follow market survey

Tuesday April 5th 2011

A robust performance from the construction sector in March has been overshadowed by further warnings over the spiralling cost of fuel, oil and steel.

The latest Markit/CIPS Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) survey for the construction sector - where a reading above 50 indicates growth - fell to 56.4 in March, slightly down on the eight-month high of 56.5 in the previous month.

Economists had forecast that the rate would fall to 54.8, but each of the three sub-sectors of the industry - civil, residential and commercial - recorded continued growth in March.

There were further signs of inflationary pressure after the industry said input prices rose to a 31-month high, driven by higher raw material prices.

Other "worrying" signs about the sector's future health have also emerged, as confidence was dented by the Government's austerity cuts and growth in new orders slowed to below its historical average.

The number of people employed by the industry fell for the ninth month in a row as builders cut costs, although the rate of decline in staff levels slowed.

The construction sector has now seen growth in 12 of the past 13 months, with the exception of December when growth was disrupted by the Arctic weather conditions.

Copyright © Press Association 2011

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