(Bloomberg) -- China’s property and construction industries contracted in the third quarter for the first time since the start of the pandemic, weighed by a slump in real estate.

Output in the real-estate industry, a mainstay of the economy as its activities supports sectors from furniture to commodities, shrank 1.6% from a year ago, according to a supplemental report on gross domestic product released Tuesday by the National Bureau of Statistics. The sector grew 7.1% in the three months through June and this contraction is the first since the first quarter of 2020.

The construction industry’s output fell by 1.8%, also its first decline since the pandemic. Before the pandemic, that sector had never contracted in data back to 1992. 

The escalating debt crisis at China Evergrande Group and other developers has undermined consumers’ confidence in buying homes and exacerbated the effect of tight curbs on property developers’ financing and property sale restrictions to cap prices. The combined sales of China’s top 100 developers plummeted 36% year-on-year in September, and the slow government-funded infrastructure construction has also undercut the building sectors. 

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China’s economy slowed further in the third quarter, weighed down by the housing slump and electricity shortages, data released Monday showed. Gross domestic product expanded 4.9% from a year earlier, down from 7.9% in the previous quarter. Growth of investment and industrial production was sluggish, while retail sales rebounded slightly. 

Production halts at factories across the country due to a power shortage is reflected in the slowdown of the manufacturing industry, which expanded by 4.6% in the third quarter, down from 9.2% in the previous quarter.

The data prompted many economists to downgrade their growth forecasts. Officials have signaled they are not rushing to stimulate the economy but will provide targeted support. 

People’s Bank of China Governor Yi Gang recently forecast the economy would expand about 8% this year, exceeding Beijing’s official target of above 6%. 

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