An analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of new government data shows construction employment in Arkansas remained essentially flat at 54,600 jobs in April, compared with 54,400 in March. The 0.4% increase ranked No. 18 among U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
In a broader comparison, the job market in Arkansas’ construction sector ranks among the best during the past 14 months. From February 2020 to April 2021, construction employment in Arkansas is up 2.3%. That increase ranked No. 5 in the country. Seasonally adjusted construction employment in April exceeded the February 2020 level in only 14 states.
According to the report issued May 21, construction employment in April remained below the pre-pandemic high set in February 2020 in 36 states and the District of Columbia, despite increases from March to April in 26 states.
Association officials said increases in materials prices, delays in receiving key construction supplies and labor shortages are undermining the recovery.
Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist, said the latest figures underscore that construction has yet to fully recover from the pandemic’s effects in most parts of the country.
“Even where employment has topped pre-pandemic levels, the gains are likely due mainly to feverish homebuilding and remodeling, not to widespread resumption of nonresidential building and infrastructure projects,” he said.
Association officials noted that rapid increases in the cost of many construction materials are hammering firms still trying to recover from the pandemic. Deliveries of many materials are often delayed because of manufacturing and shipping backups. Many firms also report having trouble finding workers to hire amid continued school closures, lingering worries about the pandemic and elevated unemployment benefits.