Construction employment increased in 63% of the 358 metro areas analyzed by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) between November 2018 and November 2019. The AGC also reported that a majority of firms expect to keep adding workers in 2020, but many are finding it more difficult to fill positions.

A recent AGC survey found three-fourths of firms expect to add workers in 2020, but two in three firms expect it will be as hard or harder to hire workers than in 2019. The survey also found 81% of firms reported having a hard time finding qualified workers to hire.

The 226 metro areas that added construction jobs on a year-over-year (YOY) basis continues a four-month trend of declining YOY construction employment growth. The AGC reported 258 metros added construction jobs YOY in July, and that number has decreased in each subsequent published report.

"It’s likely that even more metros would have added workers recently if unemployment weren’t at record lows in many areas," AGC chief economist Ken Simonson said.

Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas, and Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nev., added the most construction jobs in the past 12 months while Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nev., Omaha-Council Bluffs, Neb.-Iowa, Sioux Falls, S.D., and Auburn-Opelika, Ala., experienced the largest percentage increase YOY. Construction employment reached record levels in 71 metro areas, according to the AGC.

New York City, N.Y., and Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif., experienced the largest declines in construction jobs on a YOY basis and Danville, Ill., Fairbanks, Alaska, and Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, Conn., experienced the largest percentage decreases in employment in the past 12 months.

The AGC also reported construction spending rose 4.1% from November 2018 to November 2019. The association reported the majority of surveyed firms in its 2020 Construction Outlook study were optimistic about the dollar value of projects available. There were YOY increases in all major construction segments, including private residential.