Sunday, April 23, 2006

Could An Immigration Crackdown Pop The Bubble?

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A story in today's Dallas Morning News shows how the housing industry could be hurt by the immigration debate. It quotes Associated Builders and Contractors, a construction trade organization that represents 23,000 firms, as saying that "construction would screech to a halt in the United States" without immigrant workers. It estimates that 185,000 workers will be needed during the next decade to maintain the current level of growth (a point that is seriously debateable considering that there's no way we're going to maintain the "current level" of growth).

Unfortunately, you have to register to see the Dallas Morning News story, but check with for a way to avoid it. Also, you can check the shorter UPI version of the story.

Here's an excerpt:
The number of foreign-born construction workers has more than quadrupled over the last decade, government statistics show. Construction also employs more newly arrived undocumented workers than any other industry, according to figures from the Pew Hispanic Center.

On any given day, 117,600 mostly immigrant workers around the country either work as day laborers or are looking for such work, according to a recent survey.

"The immigrant workforce is still keeping the housing market afloat to some extent," said Jerry Howard, chief executive of the National Association of Homebuilders.

The construction industry's reliance on immigrant labor isn't new. Today's heavily Hispanic work crews in states such as Texas, California and North Carolina have largely replaced the Irish, Italian and other European craftsmen and laborers that built cities and towns in the Northeast and Midwest.
Western history buffs will tell you about another very important immigrant group — Chinese workers.

-- The Boy in the Big Housing Bubble/Los Angeles and Beyond