Arkansas Small Business Owners Suffering From Worker Shortages Are Being Crippled By Unskilled Workers

A construction company in Arkansas is being forced to hire unqualified workers due to the country’s drastic labor shortage. 

The owner of Concrete Creations and Evacuations, JD Huddleston, complained about not finding workers with basic qualifications. Out of desperation, he’s been forced to hire laborers who have no idea how to perform the work. Since the start of the Covid pandemic, he’s gotten creative by “Raising wages, offering paid vacation benefits from day one, ‘renting’ laborers from another contractor who hires out his employees, and working on the crews himself.” He complained that he’s paying workers $18-$20 just in the hopes they show up.

According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics,” Construction laborers earned an average hourly wage of $20.92, or $43,520 per year on a full-time work schedule.”

Huddleston says he winds up firing many of those he hires. For every eight people he hires, he may keep one at the end of 30 days. He cited the workers’ laziness as the reason for them being fired. The worker shortage is affecting Huddleston’s bottom line. He has to turn down larger projects with higher pay because he doesn’t have the crew for those projects. 

According to The National Federation of Independent Business, a small-business lobby group, “51% of small business owners reported job openings that could not be filled in September, noting the figure marked a 48-year record high for the third straight month.”

Huddleston is not the only small business owner suffering in Arkansas, let alone the rest of the U.S. 

Joe Serrano owned 10 Supercuts franchises before the 2020 pandemic. He’s had to close one in Fayetteville, and one in Rogers after employees refused to return. He re-opened his salons in September 2020, offering a $12 base minimum wage, health insurance, and paid time off, but couldn’t convince his staff to return. His other shops have experienced high turnover and staffing shortages.

Serrano noted that the online applications he receives are deceptive. People that apply often don’t leave a working phone number or valid email address. Serrano began asking people why this was happening. According to Serrano, “I started asking my people, ‘Why are people doing that?’ They’re like, ‘Well, as long as you can show unemployment that you are actually looking for a job, you can still collect unemployment.”

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