Constructor - July/August 2017 - 23

SIMONSON SAYS

Immigration Policies Add To Workforce Challenges
BY KEN SIMONSON
CHIEF ECONOMIST
AGC OF AMERICA
RECENT CHA NGES IN IMMIGRATION

enforcement and proposed policy changes
threaten to make an already difficult hiring situation for construction companies
still more challenging. Project delays and
higher costs could result.
For the past several years, more than
two-thirds of contractors responding to
AGC's workforce and outlook surveys
have reported difficulty filling a variety
of craft positions. In addition, half the
respondents have said that supervisors
and project managers are hard to find,
and significant percentages of respondents
have said that other salaried positions also
are hard to fill.
As a consequence, the number of
vacant positions that contractors seek to
fill has more than doubled over the past six
years. For instance, data from the Bureau
of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that job
openings at the end of March 2017 totaled
172,000, compared to just 66,000 at the
end of March 2011.
A major reason for the soaring number of unfilled positions is that the pool
of unemployed workers with recent construction experience has nearly evaporated. Every month, the Census Bureau
queries a carefully selected sample of
households about whether specific individuals were employed or seeking work in
the previous month. The number of people
who said they were unemployed, actively
looking for work, and had last worked in
construction plunged by more than half
over the last six years, from 1.7 million
in March 2011 to fewer than 800,000 in
March 2017. As the overall unemployment
rate has ratcheted down to less than 4.5
percent, there are steadily fewer workers
with any type of experience for construction-or other industries-to draw from.

The number of vacant positions that contractors seek
to fill has more than doubled over the past six years.
Growth of the labor force has slowed
dramatically just as demand for workers
throughout the economy has picked up.
The number of people reaching retirement
age is now nearly equal to the number
who were born in the U.S. 18 to 25 years
ago and, thus, currently entering the labor
force. Yet the economy is continuing to create more than 2 million jobs per year. Until
now, these positions have been filled by
immigrants.
Construction is one of the major employers of these immigrants, particularly men.
BLS reported in May that 15.1 percent of
employed foreign-born males in 2016
worked in construction and extraction
occupations, compared with 8.3 percent of
employed native-born males. The largest
occupations included in these categories are
construction crafts and first-line supervisors.

Thus, policies that reduce immigration, increase deportations or discourage individuals from attempting to work
in the U.S. are likely to have an especially large impact on construction. In
addition, even contractors that are not
employing foreign-born workers may
face stiffer competition for any worker if
other businesses are losing foreign-born
employees.
AGC is an active member of the
Essential Worker Immigration Coalition,
a group of associations that is working
for enactment of legislation to allow more
employers to sponsor properly vetted
immigrant workers who have skills that
are in short supply. Passage of such a law
would lessen the likelihood of projects
being delayed for lack of available qualified workers.
◆

"Changes to Immigration Policy Could Impact Contractors," our workforce development
story on Page 40, details the implications of recent enforcement and policy changes to
contractors.
@Constr uctor Ma g

J U L Y / A U G U S T 2 0 1 7 | www.constructormagazine.com 23


http://www.constructormagazine.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Constructor - July/August 2017

Editor’s Note
President’s Message
Ceo’s Letter
Automation on the Jobsite
Simonson Says
Students Pave the Way for a Bright Construction Future
A Diversified Portfolio
Deadline for OSHA Crane Operator Certification and Qualification Approaches
Chapter Connection
Changes to Immigration Policy Could Impact Contractors
Agc in Action
Be Wreck-Less
Raze the Roof
2017 Construction Safety Excellence Award Winners
Huddleston Elementary School Renovation Project Grabs 2017 Alliant Build America Award
Inside Agc
Legislative and Regulatory News
Senior Counsel
Technology Toolbox
Westport Presbyterian Church Reconstruction Project Secures 2017 Alliant Build America Award
2017 Regional Resource Guide - A Special Advertising Section
Products & Services Marketplace
Index to Advertisers
Final Inspection
Constructor - July/August 2017 - intro
Constructor - July/August 2017 - cover1
Constructor - July/August 2017 - cover2
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 3
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 4
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 5
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 6
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 7
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 8
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 9
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 10
Constructor - July/August 2017 - Editor’s Note
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 12
Constructor - July/August 2017 - President’s Message
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 14
Constructor - July/August 2017 - Ceo’s Letter
Constructor - July/August 2017 - Automation on the Jobsite
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 17
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 18
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 19
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 20
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 21
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 22
Constructor - July/August 2017 - Simonson Says
Constructor - July/August 2017 - Students Pave the Way for a Bright Construction Future
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 25
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 26
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 27
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 28
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 29
Constructor - July/August 2017 - A Diversified Portfolio
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 31
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 32
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 33
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 34
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 35
Constructor - July/August 2017 - Deadline for OSHA Crane Operator Certification and Qualification Approaches
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 37
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 38
Constructor - July/August 2017 - Chapter Connection
Constructor - July/August 2017 - Changes to Immigration Policy Could Impact Contractors
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 41
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 42
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 43
Constructor - July/August 2017 - Agc in Action
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 45
Constructor - July/August 2017 - Be Wreck-Less
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 47
Constructor - July/August 2017 - Raze the Roof
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 49
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 50
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 51
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 2017 Construction Safety Excellence Award Winners
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 53
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 54
Constructor - July/August 2017 - Huddleston Elementary School Renovation Project Grabs 2017 Alliant Build America Award
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 56
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 57
Constructor - July/August 2017 - Inside Agc
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 59
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 60
Constructor - July/August 2017 - Legislative and Regulatory News
Constructor - July/August 2017 - Senior Counsel
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 63
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 64
Constructor - July/August 2017 - Technology Toolbox
Constructor - July/August 2017 - Westport Presbyterian Church Reconstruction Project Secures 2017 Alliant Build America Award
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 67
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 2017 Regional Resource Guide - A Special Advertising Section
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 69
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 70
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 71
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 72
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 73
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 74
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 75
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 76
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Constructor - July/August 2017 - 97
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 98
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Constructor - July/August 2017 - 125
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 126
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 127
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 128
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 129
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 130
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 131
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 132
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 133
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 134
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 135
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 136
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 137
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 138
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 139
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 140
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 141
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 142
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 143
Constructor - July/August 2017 - Products & Services Marketplace
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 145
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 146
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 147
Constructor - July/August 2017 - Index to Advertisers
Constructor - July/August 2017 - 149
Constructor - July/August 2017 - Final Inspection
Constructor - July/August 2017 - cover3
Constructor - July/August 2017 - cover4
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