Homebuilders struggle to fill jobs 'Americans don't want' (at the wage rate we want to pay them)
Immigrants make up about a quarter of the overall construction workforce, but that share is likely higher for residential homebuilding, partly due to a large number of undocumented workers. Builders say they make sure their contractors are legal to work, but they have less control over the subcontractors who often move from site to site. Even that group is shrinking, as President Donald Trump tries to impose travel bans and threatens to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.Supply and demand still works? Scientists to test gravity at 11!
"There is a fear to get out into the labor force, I think there is an uncertainty," Myers said. "I had one of our trades who became a citizen last year ask me if that could be taken away from him. Even for the people who are legal and documented, it's a factor that is holding back the labor force."
And it's costing builders more money. Wages in the residential building industry are growing at twice the rate of wages in the overall economy. Labor is the top concern among the nation's builders, according to an NAHB survey, and worry over its cost and availability is growing.
Imagine for a moment that instead of going to college, young men of middling IQ instead went into construction and earned high wages, enough to support a family. Instead of massive student debt, no job prospects and a hollowed out community, they would be married with a home by age 25, in a thriving community with no access to Mexican black tar heroin.
"The crews, we would hope, would be loyal to subcontractors and to builders, but in reality, many of the crews are just going to the highest bidder," he said."Citizen" Juan.
Myers has employed Juan, a Mexican immigrant, for more than a decade as an excavator. Juan, who didn't want to give his last name, said he became a citizen in 1999, and last year he and his brother-in-law started their own excavation company. Juan said some of his friends in Denver are buying property back in Mexico and planning to move back there. He worries about his own future and even deportation.
"I don't know what to think anymore with all these laws changing," he said.
Dear Mr. President,
If you want to increase wage growth and make life better for your supporters, tell all of your economic advisers and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Ross, Labor Secretary Acosta, that all of their departments must work with Homeland Security in a joint mission to end illegal immigration and deport all illegal aliens. They must also formulate an "American Workers First" agenda that looks a student debt forgiveness, reforming the H1-B visa system to only allow in top talent, and eliminating low skilled immigration entirely. Nothing else moves until this effort is underway. No tax cuts for corporations or the wealthy until a plan to help the American worker is ready and passed by Congress.
If this is done, the effect on communities ranging from reduced drug use, cheaper housing, lower crime, less crowding in schools and hospitals, to reduced strain on public budgets, will pay for itself, leaving aside the benefit from rising wages.
The Invisible Hand