Construction backlog in the South region of the U.S. has extended to almost a full year, according to Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC).

The South posted the highest backlog in the history of ABC’s Construction Backlog Indicator (CBI) in the fourth quarter of 2015, expanding on its previous record high reading by 8.7 percent to 11.19 months. Nationally, backlog stretched by 2.7 percent to 8.7 months in the last three months of the year.

“For the first time in years, some contractors are reporting that they are turning away work,” says ABC chief economist Anirban Basu. “[Skilled]-worker shortages are a frequently cited reason. The recent uptick in backlog suggests that demand for construction workers will remain elevated going forward, which will translate into faster wage growth, but also potentially rising costs and extended timelines.”

He says the nonresidential construction recovery remains in place.

“Despite disappointing news regarding global growth and corporate earnings, most contractors reported steady to rising backlog during 2015’s final weeks,” he says. “That’s important to contractors, of course, but also to other economic stakeholders, since nonresidential construction spending growth has emerged as one of the nation’s leading economic drivers.”

Backlog remains steady in the Northeast but slipped in the West during the year’s initial quarter. Backlog in the commercial/institutional category stands at more than eight months.