Rate of job losses in September was also worst in three months, but housing sector showed first rise in 22 months

Construction purchasing fell at its fastest rate for three months in September, according to the latest figures from the CIPS/Markit purchasing managers index.

The index fell to 46.7 from 47.7 in August. The index is based on a survey of purchasing managers asked whether orders had increased or decreased in the month, with any figure below 50 representing a decline in orders. Purchasing has now been decreasing without interruption for 19 months.

The decline in activity also steepened in the civil engineering and commercial sectors. The rate of job losses increased to the worst for three months, with job losses now registered in every month since June last year.

However some good news was provided by the fact that the housing sector showed its first rise in activity in 22 months.

David Noble, chief executive at the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply, said: “Though the industry is not contracting as quickly as it was earlier in the year, firms are struggling to adjust to comparatively low levels of activity, as reflected by employment levels which took another hefty hit and have dropped consecutively for sixteen months.