Small and medium-sized firms’ workloads and employment levels have fallen for the 14th quarter in a row.
The latest State of Trade Survey from the Federation of Master Builders paints a bleak picture for the coming months.
FMB director general Richard Diment said the results of the survey were particularly worrying as it appeared the sector had still not hit the bottom.
He said: “These job losses have damaging implications for the country’s economic recovery and in particular the government’s forthcoming Green Deal retrofit programme, as this erosion of the skills base will lead to a serious shortage of suitably skilled tradesmen.
“Previous recessions show that once people leave the industry they tend not to come back to it.”
The overall workload net balance in Q2 2011 remains unchanged at -19, with 36 per cent of firms expecting it to fall further next quarter, compared with 24 per cent who expect an increase.
Workloads continued to decline in all sectors for SMEs in the second quarter of 2011, where a net balance of zero would indicate an equal number of positive and negative answers.
But five of the nine sectors covered in the poll did show an improvement on Q1 this year while still remaining negative.
The strongest improvement was in the private new residential sector, where a 15-point rise in its net balance took it to -18.
The score for the public repair and maintenance sector was the most negative with a balance of -45, following a six-point fall.
Just over half of firms in the sector reported that workloads fell during the quarter, but nearly 18 per cent of firms reported higher employment levels in Q2, an increase from 11 per cent in the previous quarter.