June figure of £2.13bn is 15% down on the £2.49bn recorded in May
Construction orders in June slipped to their lowest level of the recession so far, despite a strong rebound earlier in the year, according to the latest government data.
Across the quarter leading up to June construction orders rose by 18% from the first quarter of the year, but were still 27% down on the same period last year.
The seasonally adjusted figures from the Office of National Statistics show a rebounding of activity across April-June in every sector of construction - housing, infrastructure, public sector, industrial and commercial.
However, the monthly data shows that much of the quarterly rise is based on a strong increase in April. Since then activity has declined again, with the last month of the quarter, June, being the weakest since the recession began.
In total, £7.8bn worth of orders were placed in the second quarter, compared to £6.6bn in the first three months of the year, and £9.9bn in the second quarter of 2008.
The June figure of £2.13bn was down 15% on the £2.49bn recorded in May, led by sharp falls in infrastructure and public sector orders other than housing.
Simon Rubinsohn, the RICS chief economist, says: "The latest reading, while clearly still an early estimate and likely to be revised, provides a timely warning about the health of the construction sector in the face of better news emanating from elsewhere in the economy. However, against this backdrop, the likelihood is that the actual level of construction output should begin to stabilise in the latter part of this year with a modest pick-up in the hard numbers in 2010."