Half of Hispanic immigrants work in construction

Nearly half of all Hispanic immigrants who came to the United States since 2000 found work in construction, according to a new study by the Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan research organization.

Of the approximately 500,000 Hispanic immigrants that crossed the border, around 250,000 found work in the construction industry, primarily in residential construction. According to the Pew Center, the trend was influenced by a labor shortage in construction and a strong need for unskilled labor. Michael Carliner, staff vice president for the National Association of Home Builders’ economics group, says the recent increase in construction wouldn’t have been possible without the influx of Hispanic workers.

While many aspects of the job market are still dismal, employment prospects are actually improving for Hispanic immigrants. In part, this is because the construction industry, particularly the residential sector, is booming. In 2003 there were 1.8 million housing starts, the highest number since 1977.

Although the unemployment rate for Hispanics dropped from 8.2 percent in June 2003 to 6.6 percent in December 2003, Hispanic women and second-generation immigrants found it harder to find work. According to the study, males who recently immigrated to the United States are more willing to work in construction than female immigrants or those who have lived in the country most of their lives.