The latest figures for new orders appear to have taken a turn for the even worse in November after already having fallen off a cliff in May last year.

The 12 month rolling total of orders won in volume terms dropped rapidly in November to its lowest level for more than four years. And you have to go back to September 1995 to find a period of six months when there was less work won by contractors.

In cash terms the construction industry has won £6.6 billion less new-build work over the past 12 months to November last year than it won in the 12 months to the end of April.

On the Richter scale of bad news this latest set of figures will hardly register given the constant shudders to the UK economy.

There is a lot of competition for bad news. These figures have to compete with thousands of job cuts announced seeming every day this year, with the British Chambers of Commerce using apocalyptic language to describe the downturn.

Then there are house price indexes plunging each month and every economic pundit seems eager to coin a new and bleaker phrase to depict the shocking velocity of this recession.

But that doesn't mean it is worth ignoring the new construction orders figures. They are worrying.

It is reckless to draw too many conclusions from one month's figures. But equally it would be reckless to place no significance on the latest figures.

We will need to wait to see if the downward twist in orders in November was a one off or the start of a new more dismal trend. But even as things stand the data is disturbing.

Up until fairly recently orders for larger projects have been propping up the figures. From the start of 2007 on a quarterly basis big contracts have accounted for an ever increasing slice of the new orders cake (see previous blog on the subject).

In the first quarter of 2007 the top 20 contracts accounted for about 17% of the new work let. In the third quarter of 2008 the figure was 29%. This means that proportionately there has been less in the way of smaller contracts.

Big contracts have a certain momentum and are appear to be less prone to being closed down than smaller jobs.

What will be interesting to note, when the statistician provide us with the breakdown of project sizes for the final quarter figures, is whether this latest downward drop marks the start of a sharp drop in the bigger projects being let.

If that is the case, prepare for a little more yelping from the big contractors than we have heard to date. Of late they have appeared a little too eager to parade their swollen order books.