Construction employment increased in 59% of the 358 metro areas analyzed by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) during the 2019 calendar year. The AGC reported that many firms across the country are having a hard time finding qualified workers, likely undermining the industry employment growth in some parts of the country.

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.

There are not enough qualified workers in many parts of the country for firms to be able to keep pace with strong demand for work,” said AGC chief economist Ken Simonson. “Construction workforce shortages appear to be holding back further job gains in many parts of the country.”

The 211 metro areas that added construction jobs on a year-over-year (YOY) basis from December 2018 to December 2019 continues a five-month trend of declining YOY construction employment. The AGC reported 258 metros added constructions YOY in July, and that number has decreased in each subsequent published report.

Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas, Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif., and Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nev., added the most construction jobs during 2019. Kansas City, Mo., Omaha-Council Bluffs, Neb.-Iowa, and Auburn-Opelika, Ala., experienced the largest percentage gain in industry jobs during the 2019 calendar year. According to the AGC, construction employment reached a new December high in 71 metro areas.

New York City, N.Y., and Northern Virginia experienced the largest job losses during 2019, while Fairbanks, Alaska, Longview, Texas, and Wichita Falls, Texas, experienced the largest percentage decreases in construction employment during 2019.