You have got to admire the spirit, we are on the verge of the deepest recession most in the industry have witnessed and yet there are those in the construction who feel the worst may be passed.

That seems to be what the latest construction market survey by the buyers' body CIPS is telling us.

Yes, things are getting worse, but they are not getting worse as fast as they were. The main index rose from a shocking 29.3, to a not quite so painful 34.5. But given that the 50 mark represents an even keel, we are still shipping water.

The survey's own evidence found that the ravaged house building sector is still contracting and even in the relatively buoyant civil engineering sector workload is falling fast.

It found that firms are still culling labour either through redundancy or natural wastage. But they are holding on to as many employees as they can by using far more imagination than in previous recessions - shorter working, or indeed through pay cuts.

Yet through all of this it found "a number of contractors" who in January felt that they were "over the worst" and who were looking forward with more optimism than they have been for many months.

Extraordinary. Is this the first sign of improvement?

I am not sure how to answer that without upsetting people, given that when I first started writing this blog I was accused of being over gloomy in a manner that suggested I was in some way responsible for dragging the industry down.

Personally, at the time, I felt that I was being rather more reserved than I could legitimately have been and indeed than I was being in private conversations. Anyway, as history would have it, reality has out gloomed me by some margin.

So here is how I see it. There will be some who do well. Some parts of the industry will thrive and naturally where there is change or, indeed, chaos, opportunity arise with the benefits accruing both immediately or deferred.

But the industry as a whole is in for a nasty kicking. And generally when construction gets a kicking it is very nasty indeed and there will be plenty who suffer.

I see no green shoots, even when the snow is scraped away. So for the vast majority in the business it will be a slog. But better times will return, at some point.

It is not that I am not optimistic, I am. And as an industry there is a dire need for more optimism, importantly because those who represent the industry now have a tough task ahead. They must calm factional tensions while seeking to establish consensus on policies that will ensure the industry does not go down its preferred route of self destruction.

Having witnessed two previous nasty recessions, I certainly do not wish to hear again phrases on the lines of "we should have done more in the downturn to...train, preserve skills, innovate, improve productivity etc etc."

My point is that optimism is healthy and should be used wisely. Kidding yourself is unhealthy and all too easily leads to cynicism.

But I'll leave the final word on the survey to Roy Ayliffe, Director of Professional Practice at the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply: "The remainder of this quarter will be important in ascertaining if the rise in the indices in January was an aberration or a real sign of a turning point in the cycle."