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Which States and Construction Trades Rely Most on Immigrant Workers?

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Trade Contractors

Which States and Construction Trades Rely Most on Immigrant Workers?

California and Texas have higher concentrations of immigrants in their construction workforce, and certain skilled trades also rely more on foreign-born labor than others

March 21, 2024
Immigrant construction workers in Florida
Image: Jeffrey Banke / stock.adobe.com

There's been some easing of the construction labor shortage, but home builders still face challenges finding labor, and certain skilled trades are really feeling the pinch. In the latest February 2024 National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) survey, 65% of builders reported either some shortage or a serious shortage of workers performing finished carpentry. The need for bricklayers and masons was acute as well, and more than half of surveyed builders also reported shortages of electricians, plumbers, and HVAC technicians—trades that require longer formal training, professional licenses, and generally attract fewer immigrants, NAHB's Eye On Housing reports.

Data show that one in four construction workers are foreign-born, with a higher concentration among construction trades (31%). But use of immigrant labor also varies across the nation, with some states relying more heavily on workers who come from abroad, and certain populous states—California, Texas, Florida, and New York—having a greater concentration of immigrant workers. 

However, the reliance on foreign-born labor continues to spread outside of these traditional immigrant magnets. This is evident in states like New Jersey, Nevada, and Maryland where immigrants, as of 2022, account for over a third of the construction labor force. In Massachusetts, Connecticut, Georgia, Rhode Island, and Arizona, one out of four construction workers are foreign-born. At the other end of the spectrum, nine northern states have the share of immigrant workers below 5%.

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