Employment in the wider economy continued to grow but there was a jump of 38,000 in the number of unemployed in the three months to April, official figures show.

Rising unemployment is seen as a key factor in determining the shape of the economic slowdown and if it rises sharply may open the floodgates to distressed sales of homes.

The latest figures show no sign of any great slump in construction employment, despite the waves of jobs lost from house builders.