Contractors plan to add employees in 2020, if they can find them.

A nationwide survey of contractors found that a majority plan to add employees in 2020, but businesses are having a hard time finding people to fill available jobs.

Associated General Contractors of America released the 2020 Sage Construction Hiring and Business Outlook Survey on Dec. 18. The survey found that three out of four construction firms surveyed said they plan to add employees in 2020, but 81% said they were having a hard time filling salaried and hourly craft positions.

In the Southern region, 82% of contractors reported difficulty filling positions.

Worker quality was the biggest concern of 75% of the 956 nationwide survey participants and 69% of Southern contractors.

"Both the actual spending totals for November and our members' expectations for 2020 point to a continuing uptick in construction employment," said Ken Simonson, AGC chief economist. "It's likely that even more metros would have added workers recently if unemployment weren't at record lows in many areas."

The survey found Southern contractors had the most upbeat outlook, with net positive readings that exceeded national averages in all 13 survey categories.

ACG also reported a 4.1% nationwide increase in construction spending between November 2018 and November 2019. Spending totaled $1.324 trillion at a seasonally adjusted annual rate in November, up 0.6% from October and up 4.1% for the year, the organization said.

A recent ranking by the AGC of the fastest-growing metropolitan markets for construction employment did not include any S.C...

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