Monday, April 24, 2006

Builders Fret Over Immigrant Debate

by Calculated Risk on 4/24/2006 03:46:00 PM

From BuilderOnline: Builders Fret Over Immigrant Debate: Construction Would Halt Under Stricter Laws, the Industry Warns

In the debate over how to fix the nation's immigration laws, few sectors have more at stake than the construction industry, one of the country's economic bright spots.

One of every four workers in construction is an immigrant, according to government statistics.

And as orders for new housing have soared over the last decade, the industry's future has become increasingly intertwined with that of the immigrant workforce.
There is a new home being built right next door to me. The work crews all speak Spanish, although I have no idea if they are legal or illegal immigrants. But it makes me wonder if there are far more people employed in construction than are reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
On any given day, 117,600 mostly immigrant workers around the country either work as day laborers or are looking for such work, according to a recent survey.

"The immigrant workforce is still keeping the housing market afloat to some extent," said Jerry Howard, chief executive of the National Association of Homebuilders.
If the immigrant workforce is underreported, then as the housing market slows, some of the lost jobs might not show up in the BLS data. Just something to keep in mind as we track construction employment in the US and California.