Ohio added 4,000 new construction jobs in December, leading the country in gains for the month according to an analysis of Labor Department data released by The Associated General Contractors of America (“AGC”) last week.

The AGC’s analysis noted that construction firms added jobs in 34 states last year, but industry employment declined in 32 states between November and December – likely due to cold, wintery weather in parts of the country.

The overall construction hiring and business outlook for 2014 is generally positive according to the AGC’s study. While contractors in the South were the most optimistic in the majority of eleven different market segments, contractors in the Northeast were least optimistic. Midwestern contractors, including in Ohio, were most optimistic about the demand in the power construction and manufacturing construction market segments.

While contractors are generally more optimistic about 2014 than they have been since the start of the downturn, AGC’s analysis added that along with such growth, there will be new challenges for construction firms as they struggle to find enough skilled workers, cope with escalating materials and healthcare costs, and struggle to comply with expanding regulatory burdens.