Construction employment increased in 69% of 358 major metro areas analyzed by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) between August 2021 and 2022. While job growth was widespread, the organization notes that gains would have been higher if firms had an easier time finding more qualified candidates to hire and train.

“While roughly two-thirds of metro areas added construction jobs in the past year, the number would be still higher if contractors could find enough qualified workers,” says AGC chief economist Ken Simonson. “The record number of construction job openings and ultra-low unemployment rate for workers with construction experience are signs of an ever-tighter labor market.”

According to the AGC, the unemployment rate for job seekers with construction experience declined to 3.9% in August 2022 from 4.6% during August 2021. While the unemployment rate declined, there were 393,000 job openings in construction at the end of July, the highest total for the month in the 22-year history of government data, according to the organization.

To combat the tight labor market, the AGC says many firms in the industry are taking steps to recruit and retain new workers, including using digital advertising and creating tools designed to make jobsites more welcoming and inclusive. In response to the AGC’s most recent workforce survey, approximately a third of firms reported engaging with career-building programs at the high school, collegiate, or career and technical levels. The association says additional steps can be taken to fund construction education programs to expose more students to construction career opportunities.

Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas, and Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Washington, added the most construction jobs on a year-over-year basis in August, while Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Florida, and Richmond, Virginia, lost the most jobs during the same 12-month period period, according to the AGC. Muskegon, Michigan, added the highest percentage of construction jobs between August 2021 and August 2022 while Charleston, West Virginia, experienced the largest percentage decline in industry jobs during the same period.