Outlook 'gloomy' for construction
Most construction companies in Northern Ireland anticipate less work this year, it has been revealed.
Many are working at half capacity or less as the economic slowdown bites, said the Construction Employers' Federation (CEF).
It called on government to increase the amount of money available for roads, schools and hospitals to help provide jobs.
Thousands of homes were left without water over Christmas and the New Year after pipes froze in the deep chill following years of under-investment.
CEF managing director John Armstrong said: "The severe downturn in construction has had an enormous knock-on effect on the wider economy.
"It is highly concerning to everyone interested in growing the local economy that a majority of construction companies are preparing for further reductions in workload during 2011."
He said the need for investment in infrastructure could not be clearer.
"Setting aside the construction jobs it would create and the direct economic multiplier, investment in our infrastructure benefits every citizen and enables long-term economic growth," he claimed.
A survey by the industry body showed that over the past year every second construction company was working at half capacity or less.
The outlook for the year ahead is ominous as 60% of those who responded anticipated a lower workload in 2011, it found.