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Building sector in belated recovery

As the employment market in Northern Ireland demonstrates signs of picking up, latest data shows the construction sector is still struggling.

Output stood at £452m in the second quarter of 2013 – 5.1% lower than the same period in 2012 and 40% down on the quarters before the downturn in 2007.

The news will knock the industry's fragile confidence, which had been building following two successive quarters of growth in the fourth quarter of 2012 and the first quarter of this year.

The Department of Finance and Personnel, which compiled the figures, said in its Northern Ireland Construction Bulletin all sub-sectors of the industry shrank in contrast in the second quarter, a fall which is in stark contrast to that in Great Britain, which increased by 2%.

However, a more up to date survey from Ulster Bank showed the construction sector here "has finally boarded the recovery train," according to economist Richard Ramsey.

The bank's PMI report for September showed an acceleration in construction activity and a pick-up in new orders and employment levels.

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