Earlier this month, we published a post highlighting the rising share of immigrant workers in construction. Immigrant workers now account for close to one in four workers, the highest share recorded by the American Community Survey (ACS). In some states, reliance on foreign-born labor is even more pronounced with immigrants comprising more than 40% of the construction labor force.
Traditionally, immigrants are concentrated in a few populous states, with more than half of all immigrant labor force (54%) residing in California, Texas, New York, and Florida. These are not only the most populous states in the U.S. (together accounting for nearly a third of the country’s population), they are also particularly reliant on foreign-born labor. Immigrants make up 34% of the labor force in California, 28% – in New York, 26% – in Florida and 22% – in Texas. The construction industry is even more dependent on foreign-born workers, as more than a third of the construction industry workforce in these states comes from abroad.
California and the District of Columbia take the lead on the state list with 42% of the construction labor force coming from abroad. The foreign-born share is similarly high in Texas, exceeding 41%. In New York and Nevada, around 37% of the construction work force is foreign-born, and in Florida, the share approaches 35%.
However, the reliance on foreign-born construction labor is also evident outside of these traditional immigrant magnets. For example, in states like Georgia, Virginia and Maryland, immigrants account for close to 30% of the construction labor force, as of 2016. While immigrants comprise less than 16% of the labor force in Virginia, their share in construction exceeds 29%. Similarly, in Georgia, less than 14% of labor force is foreign-born, but the share of immigrants in the construction labor force is twice as high.
While most states draw the majority of immigrant foreign-born workers from the Americas, Hawaii relies more heavily on Asian immigrants. European immigrants are a significant source of construction labor in North East and Illinois.