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Home Building Trades Most Reliant on Foreign-Born Workforce


Home Building Trades Most Reliant on Foreign-Born Workforce

March 16, 2021
Stick framed construction
Photo: Michael Evans

Foreign-born construction workers account for 24% of the overall construction workforce, but that share nearly doubles in California and Texas. These states report 40% of the construction workforce comes from foreign-born labor, according to the National Association of Home Builders. Trades with the largest labor shortages—drywall/ceiling tile installers, painters, roofers, cement masons, and construction laborers—also feature the highest concentration of foreign-born labor. Still, more than 73% of builders are reporting ongoing labor shortages specifically for carpenters and framing crews and 60% of home builders report a shortage of brick and cement masons.

Comparing the HMI survey data over the recent years, construction trades with the most consistent labor shortages are framing crews, carpenters and bricklayers – all requiring unique technical expertise but less formal education.

The two most prevalent construction occupations, laborers and carpenters, account for about 30% of the construction labor force. More than a third of all construction laborers (38%) and 30% of carpenters are of foreign-born origin.

Reliance on foreign-born labor is quite uneven across the US states. Immigrants comprise close to 40% of the construction workforce in California and Texas. In New Jersey, 37% of the construction labor force is foreign-born. In Nevada, New York and Florida, one out of three construction industry workers come from abroad.

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