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5.17.23 – THV11.com – PINE BLUFF, Ark.

How the construction worker shortage is impacting companies in Arkansas. Construction projects can be found all over Arkansas.

No matter where you go in Arkansas, you’ll likely see an ongoing construction project.

Hosea Jackson owns 1911 Construction and his team has been working with another company to complete a bridge project in Pine Bluff.

However, he has also been facing a shortage of workers.

“We’re facing the challenge of trying to find people who are skilled laborers,” Jackson said.

His company is in need of carpenters, electricians, and even someone who is able to read blueprints.

“You have a lot of seasoned people, but they are already with major companies,” he said.

That issue causes smaller companies, like his, to delay jobs.

“If you don’t have enough people to occupy jobs, sometimes you have to turn some jobs down because you don’t have the manpower,” Jackson explained.

Jackson has 11 on staff currently but would like to have at least 25 people.

Nationally, the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics reported that at least about 341,000 construction jobs were open in March 2023.

However, in order to meet the need for labor this year, the Association of Builders and Contractors said the industry needs at least 546,000 workers.

Economist, Jeremy Horedahl explained how this is because the ratio of job openings compared to people actually working is low.

“This is a great situation for workers, because not only do most of them have jobs, but they have a lot more power to bargain for higher wages,” Horpedahl said.

He added that could create more challenges for employers, like construction companies, who want to hire people.

“They have to pay a lot more than they would have in the past, which might make some projects unprofitable,” he explained.

Jackson said he does offer competitive pay, but said more workforce education could attract more people.

“We got to go back to the vocational schools and teach our young people the different trades out there,” he added.