Eighty-eight percent of Florida construction firms plan to increase hiring during the next six months and 84 percent anticipate experiencing more difficulty finding appropriately skilled labor, according to a report released by Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of Florida. The inaugural Florida Contractor Confidence Index (CCI) showed a statewide reading of 81 for improving sales, indicating the typical Florida contractor expects to be much busier in 2017.

The Florida CCI is intended to supply information regarding contractor perceptions of staffing needs, worker availability and sales expectations. The index also tracks changes in workforce development among contractors during the last year.

ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu said Florida has been among the nation’s most active markets recently, and although most contractors plan to hire more aggressively this year, they also anticipate struggling with a shortage of skilled workers.