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Northern Ireland job losses stemmed

The loss of construction jobs in Northern Ireland has been stemmed, figures show.

The number of claimants in the building sector between January and April fell by 450 to 13,600. During the previous two years the number had tripled.

However, the improvement could be hit by the dangers of reduced public spending given the Conservative Party’s pledge to cut billions from UK-wide coffers, the Construction Employers’ Federation (CEF) said.

Managing director John Armstrong said: “Everyone in the industry is aware that cuts to public sector spending are coming. The real danger is that the Executive takes the short-term option and cuts investment in the building and maintenance of Northern Ireland`s infrastructure.

“This would inevitably lead to a return to lay-offs, further damage to the wider economy and the dilapidation of our infrastructure.”

Levels of construction activity have plummeted in recent times. Over the last year, 20,000 jobs were lost and the workforce reduced by a quarter, the CEF added.

Mr Armstrong added: “The news that the trend of ever-increasing job losses has come to a halt is very welcome.”

However, many companies are anticipating a lighter work load in the coming year.

The number of firms reporting that they are working at half capacity or less has increased every quarter since the first quarter in 2007 with 46% half affected last year.

The first quarter in 2010 marks the first fall in this figure for two years to 43%.

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