Immigrant Inflow Slows, But Remains Steady in Construction Labor Force

March 6, 2020
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By Black Mamba

We are a nation of immigrants, and the construction industry is a prime example of how foreign-born labor has become integral to business operations. Although the percentage of immigrants in construction held steady around 30 percent, that figure still represents over a full 10 percent jump from 2004, and it is much higher than the 24.3 percent of immigrants in the total U.S. labor force today. Even as many workers, including immigrants, left the industry during the downturn, immigrants remained a pillar of construction labor and returned faster than native-born workers.

New NAHB research shows that despite the slowing of immigration inflow, the share of foreign-born workers in the US construction labor force remain at record high levels but showed no growth in 2017 and 2018. Immigrant workers now account for close to one in four workers in construction. The share of immigrants is even higher in construction trades, reaching 30%.

While the entire US labor force has become more dependent on foreign-born labor with its share rising from less than 15% in 2004 to 17% in 2018, the reliance of the construction industry on foreign-born workers is greater. Immigrants account for almost a quarter of the construction work force. That share was rising rapidly during the housing boom years, when labor shortages were widespread and severe across construction trades. It increased from less than 20% in 2004 to almost 23% in 2007.

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