Immigration’s Role in the Labor Shortage

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Builders are short on workers, and that's in part due to immigration trends.

November 09, 2015

In June 2015, the NAHB reported that  69 percent of builders were experiencing a worker shortage for rough carpentry, as well as being short on framing crews (67 percent), finish carpenters (66 percent), and bricklayers (53 percent).

The labor shortage is due, in large part, to immigration trends. Since 2007, the U.S. construction industry has lost 570,000 Mexican-born workers, according to a report from John Burns Real Estate Con­­sulting by CEO John Burns and chief demographer Chris Porter. Burns attributes that dwindling number to several factors: U.S. government efforts to protect the U.S.-Mexico border; employers using E-Verify technology to ensure that workers have legal status to work in the U.S.; and the improvement of opportunities for workers in Mexico, where the GDP has risen each year since 2010, creating more jobs.

“I conclude that a lot of these 570,000 experienced construction workers are not going to be coming back to work in construction in the United States,” Burns says in the video report. “Which means that construction costs only have one way to go, which is up.”

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