Photo: Robert Clark

From travel bans to deportations, the Trump administration has made immigration a high priority in its first year and it’s likely to have a major impact on the US construction and housing industries.

The effect will be even more pronounced in some of the largest, hottest markets where immigrants make up a substantial percentage of the construction labor force and a skilled labor shortage is already a challenge, according to a new report released today by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

Overall, immigrant laborers now make up nearly one in four workers, the highest share ever recorded by the American Community Survey (ACS). Immigrants have traditionally migrated to more populous states, with over 54 percent of all immigrant workers living in California, New York, Texas and Florida — these states together account for nearly a third of the entire population of the country.

Immigrants make up 28 percent of the entire labor force in New York and 34 percent in California. These states are considered “sanctuary states” whose policies can often be at odds with the current administration in DC.

“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,” the NAHB says in the digital release.

Some 42 percent of the construction labor forces in both California and Washington, DC are immigrants, the highest share of all the 50 states. The percentage of immigrant construction laborers is similarly high in Texas (41 percent) and New York (37 percent).

The levels of immigrant workers in housing is also elevated in several states not considered “immigrant magnets,” like Georgia (30 percent) and Virginia (30 percent). Interestingly, in Virginia immigrants comprise only 16 percent of the entire workforce, but nearly 30 percent of construction laborers are foreign born.

While most immigrants are originally from the Americas, Hawaii relies heavily on Asian immigrants and Illinois is a hub for European-born immigrants.

With skilled labor remaining a chief concern of homebuilders in 2018, the full impact of Washington’s immigration policies on housing is not clear. But those markets with a high share of immigrant workers that are already struggling to build enough homes to meet demand in the face of a labor shortage could be impacted more severely by the new policies.

Click here to read the entire release.

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