Construction employment levels were stagnant or declined over the past year in a majority of metro areas surveyed by the Associated General Contractors of America, the group said.

Between September 2014 and September of this year, employment declined in 144 of the 358 metro areas in the AGC’s study, and was stagnant in 55 others. Employment levels increased 159 areas, according to the analysis of federal employment figures.

Association officials said trouble finding qualified workers is responsible for some of the decline.

"It appears that many of these job losses have more to do with a lack of workers than they do a lack of work," said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association's chief executive officer. "While some markets are seeing a softening in demand, overall construction spending continues to rise while the sector's unemployment rate continues to fall."

The AGC is lobbying local, state and federal officials to boost the funding and profile of technical education programs to help close the jobs gap.

"The sad fact is our educational system is doing a great job of preparing students for jobs that don't exist and a lousy job getting them prepared for high paying jobs like construction that do exist," said Sandherr. "Until we have an educational and training system that is aligned to economic reality, construction projects are likely to cost more and take longer to complete."

More data is here