The American Association of Forestry Associations (AAFA) reports a shortage of jobs in forestry for the first time since 2006.
According to a December 2014 report, there are just 1,834 jobs in the state, a sharp decline from the 5,922 available in 2012.
The AAFA says that in rural areas, “forestry jobs are scarce or nonexistent,” and there are “significant shortages in rural- and urban-suburban and suburban-urban forestry” across the country.
The report says that “more than one in five rural counties have no forestry jobs,” and that rural employment has fallen by as much as 20% since 2010.
It also states that “while jobs in agriculture and other non-agricultural industries have recovered from the recession, forestry is the single most vulnerable industry.”AAFA executive director, Steve Ritchie, said that “in the state of Arkansas, we are seeing the first sign of recovery, but this recovery is a slow one.”
Ritchie, who is also president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), a trade association for the forestry industry, said he thinks the AAFA is in for a rough year.
“The AAFA does not think that the job situation is great,” Ritchie said.
“The economy is still recovering, but the forestry economy has been hit hard.”
According to the AAAS, the forestry sector lost 8.5% of its jobs in 2016, the lowest level since 2010, and that number is expected to rise.
According the AAFCA, it is also expected to be “challenging for many rural and rural-urban counties to attract new jobs.”
The report also indicates that the industry’s “new crop harvest” and “continued drought conditions” will be “a major factor in the job decline.”
It also noted that “federal, state and local governments have had to cut funding for many state and tribal programs” and that “farmers have been forced to cut jobs to make ends meet.”
Ritton said that while some of the job losses are related to the drought, others are “not.”
“They are not being affected by drought, but they are having to cut back because they are not receiving the funding to keep up with demand.”
According the report, more than 2,700 jobs in “mainstream” agriculture have been lost in the last six years.
The most recent jobs numbers are from February.
The jobs numbers do not include jobs in non-farm retail or manufacturing.