Private industrial and commercial building boosted construction output in the fourth quarter of 1999, according to DETR figures.

The total volume of construction output grew 1% compared with the previous quarter.

New work in the period was 2% up on the previous quarter and 5% higher than in the same period in 1998. A major growth area was infrastructure work, which increased 9% compared with the third quarter of 1999.

New private housing work was a big loser, with output falling 7% on the previous quarter.

There were also drops in new work in the public non-housing sector (excluding infrastructure) – 3% down on the previous quarter. However, it was 5% higher compared with the same period a year earlier.

Total employment in construction in October 1999 was 1% lower compared with a year earlier.

The DETR figures coincided with a Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply survey that found that business activity had grown for the fourth consecutive month in February.