Building Trades, Features, Finance, Health and Safety, Law and Politics, National

Immigrant Workers in Construction Rising

June 17, 2019

By Neal Tepel

WASHINGTON, DC – Data from the American Community Survey (ACS) indicate native-born workers are leaving the construction industry and being replaced by immigrant workers.

The number of Immigrant workers in the US construction industry has been regularly rising. Foreign born workers now account for the highest recorded by the American Community Survey (ACS). According to ACS, the percentage of immigrants in the construction trades  is  reaching 30% or higher in some states and several locations. 

Close to 1.7 million native-born workers left the construction labor force during the housing downturn, and the vast majority (1.5 million) had not returned to the industry as of 2016. 

Information based on ACS data notes that there is a reliance on foreign-born labor in many locations. The ACS data notes that Immigrants comprise close to 42% of the construction workforce in California and close to 41% in Texas. In New York and Nevada, 37% of the construction labor force is foreign-born and in Florida, 35% of construction industry workers come from abroad. Since ACS does not gather information on the legal visa status, it’s not known how many workers are undocumented. 

In summary, analysis of the 2016 ACS data highlights the significant presence of foreign-born labor in the construction work force across the United States. They are concentrated in occupations that require less formal education and are needed in substantial numbers to build homes. The distribution of immigrant construction workers is not even across the US with some states drawing more than a third of their construction workers from immigrant workers.

June 17, 2019

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