Ulster Bank’s monthly construction purchasing managers’ index (PMI) fell to 28.9 in March from 50.6 in February, indicating that the industry had "virtually collapsed", the Irish Times reports.
The plunge was the biggest and fastest since the height of the global financial crisis, the bank said.
It follows a directive from Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to halt "non-essential" construction at the end of March.
The PMI sets the status quo at 50, with any drop indicating a contraction, and any increase signifying an expansion.
All sectors contracted sharply in the month.
Commercial building fell to 28.2 in March from 52.1 in February, housing dropped to 32.4 from 49.7, and civil engineering – which includes hospitals – fell to 25.2 from 42.7.
Simon Barry, the bank’s chief economist for the Republic of Ireland, said it was the largest monthly drop in the survey’s 20-year history.
Image: Cranes over Cork, Ireland (Cristim77/Dreamstime)