The latest state of construction trade survey figures compiled and analysed by the Construction Products Association is interesting as it provides a clear picture of an industry drifting deeper into recession.
We seem to be, just from a cursory look at the graphs, very much at the beginning. And the pain, the survey commentary says, is now being felt across all sectors of construction.
In all honesty at this stage of the cycle the detail is almost irrelevant, though well worth a read nonetheless. The plain truth is that the impact of recessions spread. What may look good today might look less attractive tomorrow.
Yes, there are sectors doing better, but they are generally well recognised and will attract attention from hungry competitors rushing from sectors under more pressure. Foolishly perhaps.
The temptation, and it has been there for some while, is to seek out and hope for better signals from other surveys. But that is just wishful thinking. We are where we are.
What those with a sense of responsibility for the industry need to accept is that this will be a long haul and effort should centre on how best to preserve the best of what the industry can offer.
In this way when the industry returns to growth it will be strengthened not weakened, as has been the experience in the past.
It would be nice to think that the industry can retain some of the resolve of the mid-to-late 1990s to make every effort to avoid the mistakes of the previous recession.
Sadly, I see little sign of that so far.
Perhaps instead of trying to spot green shoots, we might spend more time exposing destructive behaviour and praising those who hold true to the spirit that flowed after the Latham-Egan reviews.
And, at the business level, there is little point seeking to dart here and there looking for the next hot, or least cool, sector. The best way to trade through a recession is to do well what you do well and to keep risks and uncertainties in check.