An Immigration Downturn Affects Construction-Worker Availability

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Better working conditions outside the U.S., as well as restrictive immigration policies, are hurting the labor supply

September 22, 2015

Restrictive immigration policies mean less immigration from Mexico, which leads to a labor shortage in the construction industry, writes The Wall Street Journal reporter Kris Hudson.

This is based on data from John Burns Real Estate Consulting Inc. “Without taking a position on immigration policy, the analysis firm examined Commerce Department data to determine that there now are 570,000 fewer Mexican-born construction workers in the U.S.—both in the residential and commercial sectors—than at the construction industry’s peak in 2007,” Hudson adds.

Their report notes Commerce Department figures showing a 67% decline in immigration to the U.S. from Mexico from 2006 to 2013.

But policy isn’t the only factor preventing more guest workers from coming. Better working conditions abroad is another reason. “One thing we’re noticing here in the Houston market is that the workers from Mexico are not coming back,” Roy Weatherford, owner of a construction practice in the Houston area told The Wall Street Journal. “There is work in Mexico. They’ve opened plants in Mexico. Look how many car manufacturers have moved to Mexico. They can work there, and if they’re making a living, they’d all rather be home.”

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