The latest new orders figures provide a sobering injection of reality after the barrage of "it's okay the recession is over" talk that seems rife.

Yes the rate of collapse has slowed. But it's the level that really matters at the moment.

Forgetting seasonal adjusted constant price measures, if we compare the amount of work contractors have bagged over the preceding 12 months in cash terms we see the amount still dwindling.

Construction orders August 2009.gif

New work won in cash terms over the 12 months to August was down 33% from peak at the end of 2007.

This is despite strong rises in public sector and infrastructure orders.

And we have to throw in the effects of the restocking process that has started to take place in the housing market, which in recent months have given the new orders figures a bit of a boost.

Now the link between orders and output may be far from linear, and you can contemplate as many green shoots as you like, but the reality is that the construction industry has to work through a period when there is a serious shortage of work to be done.

And, more worryingly, when there is even less money being paid for it.