The latest survey of local builders by the FMB suggests that more jobs will shed over coming months with a majority of a third of firms expecting to cut jobs over the coming six months.

It has to be said that the survey for the first quarter of this year is less gloomy than the preceding survey, but the figures remain extremely negative. Two thirds of firms said they did less work in the first three months of this year.

But if their expectations are right this will represent the bottom of the cycle in terms of the rate of decline. Measuring expectations of future workload found a balance of -45% against -52% in the previous quarter among the sample of firms quizzed, suggesting things are expected to get worse at a slower rate.

But whichever way you slice the data and however much the graphs start to point north, the overall picture is one of a business sector in the mire of recession, with the important numbers for all sectors and all regions heavily negative.