U.S. construction trend Hispanic
Capitol Media Services
03.08.2007

 

By Howard Fischer

Tucson, Arizona | Published: http://www.azstarnet.com/allheadlines/172487

PHOENIX The nation's construction industry is increasingly being staffed by Hispanics, and the biggest growth comes from illegal workers, according to a new report.

New figures released Wednesday by the Pew Hispanic Center show that overall construction employment nationwide rose 5 percent from 2005 to 2006. But the number of Hispanics employed in the industry rose 14.5 percent in the same period.
In other words, Hispanics landed two thirds of the new construction jobs last year.
The report also says that the number of recently arrived Hispanics those who entered the United States no earlier than 2000 was up 43.1 percent. And the authors of the study believe that two-thirds of the recent arrivals are not in this country legally.
Overall, Hispanics both native and foreign-born made up slightly more than 13 percent of the more than 144.7 million people in the work force last year.
More than half of those Hispanics were not born in this country, with a quarter of those described as recent arrivals.
That growth, according to the study, mirrors the increasing number of Hispanics in the country. But that pattern is more pronounced in the construction industry, the study concludes.
"The vast majority of new construction jobs in 2006 were filled by foreign-born Latinos, many of them recently arrived," the report says.
Backing that conclusion are the raw numbers: One in four construction jobs in 2006 was held by a Hispanic, and one in five was held by someone who was born in another country. In fact, the study shows, construc-tion has been absorbing a large percentage of new arrivals: Nearly 30 percent of those who entered this country after 1999 are working in construction.
The figures were derived from reports by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau.
Roger Yohem, vice president of the Southern Arizona Home Builders Association, said his members would not necessarily know how many undocumented workers are employed in the industry. He said the home builders hire subcontractors who, in turn, hire individual workers.
But Yohem said it would not be unreasonable to assume that a job-site-by-job-site check would yield some employees who are in this country illegally. He said that is why his organization supports creation of a new federal guest-worker program to ensure that contractors have the help they need.