So there it is, construction output slumped sharply in the second quarter of this year, according to the first take by the national statisticians of economic activity.

The statisticians put the 0.7% drop in construction activity down to the sharp drop in house building work. The 0.7% drop in construction output compares with a 0.4% rise in the first quarter and does support the view that construction is heading for recession this year.

The figures for construction are, as the statisticians say, just preliminary, but they show the slowdown in construction work dragging down overall GDP growth.

The figures show GDP growth slowed in the second quarter. It was up 0.2% on quarter one, which in turn was up 0.3% on the final quarter of 2007. But this level of growth is the weakest for three years.

A lick your finger and stick it up to the wind prediction would point to overall GDP growth coming in at below 1% this year. This is well below the Treasury forecast and indeed below the 1.5% GDP growth rate for a consensus forecast for 2008 from a range of City and other independent forecasters.

Bosses in the construction industry will be in for a nervous time waiting for the official construction output figures showing the breakdown by sector. This may give a better clue as to the state of play in the non-residential sectors.