Major metro areas across the region saw significant increases in construction employment in September, according to year-over-year comparisons compiled by Arlington, Va.-based Associated General Contractors of America.

In raw numbers, the Chicago metro area posted the nation's fourth strongest showing, adding 9,000 jobs (7%) during the period. By comparison, Cleveland added 6,100 jobs (17%), St. Louis 5,100 jobs (8%), Indianapolis 3,300 jobs (7%), Milwaukee 2,100 jobs (8%), and Detroit 1,600 jobs (8%),

Only Houston (13,500 jobs, 7%), Los Angeles (10,100 jobs, 9%) and Dallas (9,900 jobs, 9%) outperformed Chicago in September. In all, construction employment increased in 236 out of 339 metro areas during the period.

“It's good news that construction employment gains have spread to more than two-thirds of the nation's metro areas,” says AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson. “But there is a growing risk that contractors in many of these regions will have trouble finding qualified workers to complete the rising volume of projects.”

A study released last week found that 83% of construction firms surveyed by AGC are experiencing difficulty finding qualified craft workers.

About 30% of Midwest respondents indicated difficulty filling all key professional and craft worker professions, while 28% indicated difficulty filling some craft worker positions, but no difficulty filling professional positions. Another 26% indicated difficulty filling some key professional and craft worker positions.

Among professionals, respondents indicated particular difficulty in filling positions for project managers/supervisors, estimating professionals, engineers and safety professionals. Among craft professions, shortages were most acute among carpenters, equipment operators, plumbers, cement masons, iron workers and roofers.

“Unless we find ways to expand training opportunities for high school students and young adults, labor shortages are likely to undermine the industry's recovery,” says AGC CEO Stephen E. Sandherr.