Following a recent report that some immigrants have avoided construction jobsites out of fear that they’ll be deported, the AGC in Austin decided to conduct a survey aimed at determining whether recent immigration enforcement actions by the Trump Administration have had a real impact on the workforce.

Here are some major takeaways from the survey:

76% of local commercial construction industry having hard time finding hourly craft workers, according to the survey. This is almost identical to the statewide results of 74% reported in an AGC of America survey last year.

40% responded that they’ve been having trouble for years finding workers, regardless of the recent government policy changes regarding illegal immigration. Only 19% responded that the recent changes are having SOME or a MAJOR impact on their work. 17% say it’s too early to tell. 28% say that the often-cited statistic that “50% of construction workers in Texas are undocumented” is either too low or about right. 22% say it depends on type of work and trades involved. 21% said they don’t know.   Read more » about Survey: 76% of Austin Area Construction Firms Say It is Difficult to Find Hourly Craft Workers

The Houston Chronicle published an article recently about our undocumented workforce, primarily in the construction industry, and it deserves an immediate response.

The author laid it out very well. The undocumented workforce is and has been providing cheap labor for over three decades and they would be sorely missed if deportations continue without an immigration reform bill.

But there seems to be a misunderstanding about the root of the problem. It’s not just that so many are in this nation without documentation. It’s that they have never been employees. The way most people employ them – including homebuilders who have very few if any skilled craftsmen on payroll – is as independent subcontractors.

Read more » about Getting to the Root of the Immigration Challenge

Following high-profile immigration raids and a shift in the enforcement stance of the federal government, there have been reports around Texas over the last week that some construction workers do not feel safe reporting to work.

It may all be a matter of perception, given that President Trump has described the raids as a wide “military operation” while the Department of Homeland Security portrayed the recent enforcement actions as fairly routine. But that perception can be a reality for the industry if there is fear among a large percentage of the workforce that they may be rounded up on jobsites.

“The Texas (and national) construction industry has been suffering a workforce shortage for many years now,” said Phil Thoden, President of AGC Austin. “In fact, the latest AGC of America survey conducted in 2016 found that 74% of Texas contractors are having trouble filling craft worker positions, and that number has been consistently high for several years.”   Read more » about After Immigration Raids, Construction Firms See Mixed Reaction Among Workforce

President Donald Trump's proposed border wall isn't just highly controversial. Now that he’s been elected and has begun the process of fulfilling campaign promises, it is also becoming more apparent the project is a logistical nightmare for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is a lack of enough skilled workers to build what would be one of the largest public infrastructure projects in history.

Bloomberg News puts a fine point on it:

A labor shortage has left few hands to build houses and factories in the region, where wages have already been rising and projects delayed. Now, the president’s plan for “immediate construction of a border wall” will force the government to find legal builders for a project that could employ thousands if not tens of thousands.   Read more » about Labor Shortage Could Force Trump’s Hand on Legal Status for Thousands

Amid high unemployment in areas like the Midwest where people have in almost no way been encouraged to retrain themselves and while there are calls for increases in the minimum wage for jobs in fast food, the construction industry is offering good paying jobs but hurting for workers in a big way.

There are a variety of reasons for this, naturally. The problem is especially bad in North Texas, reports the Dallas Morning News:

Dallas-Fort Worth leads the country in construction of both houses and apartments. The lack of skilled labor is adding months to construction timelines and helping to inflate property prices in Big D and beyond.    Read more » about Residential Construction Seeks a Million Workers

If gas prices are higher the next time you fill up the tank, one of the reasons there will be less money in your wallet is a shortage of skilled craft professionals along the Gulf Coast.

Reuters reports that refineries in the region have been forced to postpone some scheduled maintenance due to a lack of skilled craftspeople needed to complete the jobs.

Industrial Information Resources (IIR) “estimates that the coastal region from Brownsville, Texas to New Orleans - the largest U.S. refining region - will be short roughly 37,400 craftsman needed to complete all of the planned capital projects in 2017.” Postponing the upkeep of these plants, in many cases, means slowing production or having to deal with unscheduled outages. Unexpected outages in the past few months have already taken “hundreds of thousands of barrels off the market,” causing a rise in gas prices.

Exacerbating the issue of too few skilled craftspeople in the Gulf Coast region is that “Refiners are also competing for workers with a broader range of power companies, pharmaceutical firms and industrial manufacturers nationwide, which are also preparing for a spike in maintenance projects in 2017, according to IIR.”   Read more » about Gas Prices on the Rise Due to Skilled Labor Shortage

Emily Peiffer, the editor over at Construction Dive, recently posted a feature article titled 10 Construction Trends to Watch in 2017. Since hers is one of the first of 2017, I thought that we would share the list and give you the link so that you can take a deeper dive into the list at your leisure. Here is Emily’s provocative list.

  1. Collaborative project delivery methods will become more popular.
  2. The labor shortage will continue to plague the industry.
  3. The feeling of uncertainty will linger under the new administration.
  4. Offsite/modular construction will gain a stronger foothold in the market.
  5. Construction firms are cautiously optimistic for a future infrastructure-spending boost.
  6. Read more » about Construction Trends for 2017

One of the things President-elect Donald Trump did not stress during his successful campaign for the White House is the need for those who are out of work to be trained for new careers. In fact, it is difficult to find any example of Trump discussing skills training at all. Any mention of workforce development and craft training was absent from Trump's major speeches on jobs and the economy. 

That is perhaps because his entire economic message – a message that resonated in states that made the difference for him in the Rust Belt – was centered on the idea that if you do not have a job it is because someone else took it from you. 

Trump’s political argument went something like this: If you don’t have a job, it’s because an unfair trade deal sent your gig to another country or an undocumented immigrant stole the job that you would hold here in this nation if an “illegal” wasn’t doing it instead of you.    Read more » about Trump Infrastructure Plan Should Include Skills Training

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