The latest survey of the construction sector shows another fall in activity last month, though new orders stabilised after 13 months of declines.
The Ulster Bank Construction PMI recorded 45.2, up from 40.1 in September but still well below the 50 mark which signals no change.
Construction companies said the level of new business was not enough to lead to more employment or purchasing activity. Employment levels fell again, as they have every month since May 2007, while cost increases accelerated due to higher oil and commodity prices.
Ulster Bank economist John Fahey said the industry was now contracting at its slowest pace in seven months.
He said civil engineering was the weakest sector in October, recording 38. The fall in housing activity - 42.8 last month - has now reached the five-year mark. The commercial sector registered the slowest decline in activity at 45.4.
Construction firms still expect an increase in activity over the next 12 months, but the level of optimism fell to its lowest level since January.