Further gloom for building trade
Northern Ireland's builders continue to experience falling workloads while their counterparts in Great Britain are taking on more work, the latest overview of the industry has indicated.
The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) survey found the local building industry is lagging significantly behind the rest of the UK.
Many more chartered surveyors questioned reported falling construction activity than those who said things were on the up.
The -32% index balance recorded in the first quarter of 2013 compared with the UK average net balance of +10%.
All sections of the industry in Northern Ireland saw falling workloads in the three months, according to the survey.
Despite the negative assessment of the first three months of the year, the balance was actually still higher than the dire forecasts recorded between January and March in any of the last five years.
But the future outlook also remained negative, with a net balance of -46% of respondents stating that they expect workloads to be lower in 12 months' time.
RICS Northern Ireland construction spokesman, Jim Sammon, said: "Activity is still falling, and the key challenges for the sector remain. Finance is constrained, private sector activity remains scarce, and public sector demand remains constrained. Many firms are increasingly turning to markets outside of Northern Ireland for work."
Regionally, London and the south east of England continued to see rising workloads in quarter one, with the workloads net balance recording a positive reading for the 10th consecutive quarter.