The U.S. construction industry lost 20,000 jobs last month, according to an analysis of federal data by the Associated General Contractors of America.

The industry’s unemployment rate was 12.2 percent.

Citing a member survey, AGC officials said the numbers are likely because many construction firms have already cut staff and delayed hiring due to uncertainty over the “fiscal cliff” that could see deep budget cuts and steep tax hikes if the White House and Congress do not agree on a spending plan by the end of the year.

“It is discouraging that construction employment is still struggling after more three years of expansion in the overall economy,” said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. “As disappointing as these numbers are, they will only get worse if Congress and the White House allow huge tax increases and spending cuts to occur on Jan. 1.”