“The number is almost off the charts, given what we’ve seen over the past 10 years,” explains Patrick O’Keefe, director of economic research at accounting firm CohnReznick. Are the higher-than-expected November hiring numbers a fluke? O’Keefe says no; companies are making up for hiring that was deferred earlier in the cycle. Forecasters had expected a gain of 228,000 jobs last month, but that number surged to 314,000, according to the U.S. Labor Department. In addition, AGMetalMiner.com reports that new federal figures show year-over-year growth in construction spending. Still, many firms report impacts from growing shortages of qualified workers. Ken Simonson, chief economist at the Associated General Contractors Association, says even as a number of markets continue to struggle with declining construction demand and employment, most metro areas are adding construction jobs as the industry slowly recovers.