Labor Shortages are Negatively Impacting the Construction Industry
It should be clear to everyone, because of the efforts of President Trump and our Republican lawmakers, Americans are now paying less in taxes. As promised, President Trump is bringing jobs back to America. He is removing the shackles from the coal and oil industries and opening up world-wide markets for natural gas. As a result, businesses are expanding, hiring, and increasing wages. Those are good things, right?
In fact, the US Department of Labor’s most recent report announced a 3.7% unemployment rate. That is the lowest it’s been in 49 years!
However, with 6.9 million open jobs in the US, there are not enough workers available. Construction workforce shortages have become so pervasive, they are impacting every aspect of the construction industry. One thing is certain; the construction industry is in dire need of more workers right now!
The Associated General Contractors of America recently conducted a survey that revealed 80% of contractors are having difficulty filling hourly craft positions. This workforce shortage is only expected to get worse as the baby boomers retire from the industry.
Even with average construction employee earnings hitting an all-time high of $30 an hour, contractors cannot find enough workers to keep up with the demand.
What I find most ironic about this situation is that there are so many undocumented immigrants who are here, and are working, and yet they go home every night worried about being deported. Many of them are paying payroll taxes on fake SS cards. Only God knows for sure, but it is likely that more than half are not paying taxes because they are being misclassified. Their employers issue them a 1099 calling them subcontractors, or they simply pay them in cash. Regardless, they are a significant part of our current labor force.
Common sense says we need to positively ID these workers and require them to pay proper taxes and allow them to earn their legal status.
Stan Marek, CEO of MAREK Family of Companies, has been fighting for years to reform our nation’s broken immigration system. "The construction industry in Texas is over 50 percent undocumented,” he told Marketplace.org. “What we need to do is a very simple solution: ID and tax. Anyone who can pass a background check, that's been here five years, even ten years, if they can pass the background check and go to work for an employer who pays and matches taxes, then give them a permit to work. Not citizenship, not the ability to get food stamps or any type of welfare, but just the right to work."
America would benefit from sensible immigration reform that not only secures the border and increases national security, but provides a way for undocumented immigrants who can pass background checks to earn their legal status so we can make sure they are properly identified and taxed. At 3.7% unemployment, any deportations of nonviolent undocumented workers is impractical because there are not enough legal workers to replace them.
An open and free market economy should include an immigration system that provides taxable, legal workers to do the jobs that Americans are not available or willing to do. Our nation needs a sensible immigration policy that will allow ICE to focus on dangerous criminal aliens, discourage misclassification of workers, and grow our taxable legal workforce to adequately meet the demands of our booming economy!
To borrow a line from Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, "because it’s the right thing to do!"
God bless you, and may God continue to bless America!