Builders Can't Profit Without Illegal Immigrants
(SFGATE) "The National Association of Home Builders estimates that 20 percent of the construction workforce -- about 2.4 million people -- is foreign-born. While it's impossible to know how many are undocumented, some estimates put the number at 50 percent or more."
"Whatever the true count, builders across the country say illegal immigrants play an important role in a construction labor market that is already stretched thin."
"The states with the largest share of immigrant construction workers -- and those likely to be hit hardest under the long-term/short-term proposal -- are those with some of the country's hottest housing markets."
"California tops the list, followed by Nevada, Texas, the District of Columbia and Arizona. In all of those places, immigrants, mostly from the Americas, make up more than one-third of the workforce."
However, note that not a single builder in California was used as a source in this article, nor quoted. The quoted sources come from Washington and Virginia...
Note also those on the top of the list for benefitting from cheap, illegal labor, yet these same suspects are the states with the biggest bubbles in housing.
Biggest bubbles, highest price increases, most speculation, largest % of soon to be F'd Borrowers in risky loan products all for the sake of renting an illegal immigrant built house from the bank.
"By contrast, immigrants are less than 1 percent of the construction workforce in West Virginia."
'"According to estimates by the Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan research organization in Washington, the construction industry employs the largest share of nation's estimated 7.2 million undocumented workers'
"Overall, the research group says, 1.4 million illegals are at work in the various construction trades, accounting for 12 percent of the industry's workforce. By contrast, 1.2 million are employed in the leisure and hospitality sector, the next-largest employer of undocumented workers, making up 10 percent of that's industry workforce."
"But Chuck Russell of Westhill Inc., a remodeler and custom home builder in Everett, Wash., suggests the percentage of undocumented workers on construction sites in his Seattle-area market is much higher."
"Whatever your opinion regarding immigrants who have entered the United States illegally, realize that if you are in the market for a new house, it's likely to take longer to build -- and cost more to buy -- if they are forced to leave the country."
'"I have no proof, one way or another, but my gut feeling is that half or more are illegals," says Russell, who carries 35 people on his payroll. "That's just a shot in the dark, but from my experience, half or better of the immigrants who apply for a job with my company can't provide the necessary documentation, or something is wrong with the papers and we can't hire them."'
"According to the home builders association, the majority of immigrant construction workers -- 54 percent -- comes from Mexico, and an additional 25 percent come from Central and South America. Only 12 percent are Europeans and 8 percent are Asians."
"Basing its estimates on Census Bureau data, the builders association also says that 15 percent of Mexican-born immigrants who arrived after 2000 work in construction, as do 9 percent of those from the Americas. Almost 4 percent of the most recent European immigrants work in the field."
"Craig Havenner of the Christopher Cos., a builder in Virginia, has no idea how many of the carpenters, brick masons, roofers and other craftsmen who work for the subcontractors he hires are here illegally. Nor does Michael Fink of the Leewood Real Estate Group in Trenton, N.J.
But both builders say they'd be hard-pressed to deliver their products on time or at the same price if "illegals" were ordered to leave the country, as some federal legislators have demanded."
'"We're already straining to fulfill demand," agrees Fink, an inner-city builder who concentrates on workforce housing for people who make 35 to 120 percent of the median income where they live. "If (construction workers who are here illegally) are removed from the workforce, the housing business will suffer tremendously."'
"Nationally, one-third of all construction laborers and 22 percent of all carpenters are immigrants. These are the two most prevalent construction-trade occupations. But immigrants also make up a significant portion of the country's drywall installers (40 percent), roofers (33 percent), painters and masons (32 percent), and carpet, floor and tile installers and finishers (29 percent)."
"Northern Virginia builder Havenner says he can almost categorize the trades by their country of origin. Koreans do the siding, roofing, windows and gutters, he says. Portuguese do the concrete work, and Hispanics do a little bit of everything."
'"One of my best carpenters is a Salvadorian who went out on his own three years ago and now employs his brothers and cousins."'
"Only two trades among Havenner's jobs -- heating/air-conditioning mechanics and tile installers -- are largely native born. The rest are mostly immigrants. "I go back to the early 1980s, when it was primarily Korean and Vietnamese immigrants. For the past 10 years, it's been Hispanic," he says. "On any number of construction sites, I'd say 75 percent (of the workforce) are fairly recent immigrants. They represent a huge part of what we do."'
"Immigrants "have always been" a large component of the home-building workforce, agrees Fink, the New Jersey builder. "All you have to do is walk on a construction site and listen to the languages."'
"Both builders say they couldn't get along without them. "We're already maxed out," said Fink, adding that forcing undocumented workers to leave the country "would have a devastating effect on our ability to produce housing. Do you think people are going to want to wait two years to get their house?"'
"Fink and Havenner also say the argument that native-born Americans would replace illegals if the job paid more just doesn't hold water, at least not in the construction sector."
'"These are not bottom-rung jobs, and we still have trouble filling them with people from any country," Fink says. "But in my experience, native-born Americans are not willing to gain the skills necessary to get them."'