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Contractors association survey says firms will hire in 2011

More firms are planning on adding workers to their payrolls this year, according to survey.

More firms are planning on adding workers to their payrolls this year, according to survey.

For years, the construction sector has been on life support, but a recent survey suggests its vital signs may be stabilizing.

According to the Associated General Contractors of America and Navigant, more construction firms this year are planning on hiring workers.

"This won't be an easy year for most firms, but it will be better than last year," said Stephen Sandherr, CEO for AGCA. "If current trends continue, this industry will be in a much better position 12 months from now than it is today."

Sandherr was careful not to raise hopes too high, noting that 2010 saw more firings than hirings. But this year's AGCA survey has 27 percent of firms hiring and 20 percent planning further layoffs.

Some of the biggest projected hirings will come in the Midwest, as 45 percent of firms polled in Iowa plan to hire. In Idaho, meanwhile, 48 percent of firms said further layoffs loom.

Despite the overall positive findings, most contractors aren't optimistic about what 2011 has in store. The National Association of Homebuilders believes otherwise. NAHB's chief economist said earlier this month he expects a 21 percent rise in single-family homes built this year compared to last.