This doesn’t add up

Alabama immigration law blamed for drop in construction jobs

Alabama’s construction industry is losing jobs faster than almost every state in the nation, and industry experts say some of the losses are due to the state’s strict new immigration law.

Figures from the Associated General Contractors, an Arlington, Va.-based trade group, showed that construction-related employment in Alabama has fallen from 85,900 in June, when the law was passed, to 80,700 in October.

Construction employment in the Birmingham-Hoover metro declined from 24,900 in June to 23,800 in October, according to AGC figures.

“Some of it has to do with the immigration law,” said Henry Hagood, head of Alabama AGC chapter. “Crews have left the state. That’s not the only reason for the numbers. Our market is down at the bottom. Every little thing, when you don’t have as much work, contributes to it.”

Alabama’s one-month loss of 3.2 percent, or 2,700 construction jobs from September to October, was the second highest nationally, surpassed only by Nevada’s 4.6 percent decline, according to AGC figures.

For the 12-month period ending in October, according to the trade group, Alabama lost 7 percent of its construction jobs, a steeper decline than all but three states — Georgia (9.5 percent), New Mexico (9.2 percent) and Wisconsin (8.6 percent).

John Wyatt, a vice president at Gary C. Wyatt General Contractor in Birmingham, said the immigration law has caused job shortages for construction companies across the state.

“There have been no-show employees in various trades from job sites since the immigration law has taken effect,” he said.

Correlation doesn’t imply causation.

If 1000 Walmart employees suddenly quit, Walmart doesn’t lose 1000 jobs, they have 1000 job openings. Logic would say that in a period of high unemployment in the construction industry there would be plenty of available workers to fill those positions.

But there is another issue here I want to talk about. We always hear that we need illegal immigrants because they take the shitty jobs nobody here will do. Now I don’t know about where you live, but around here construction is considered one of the better blue-collar jobs.

In fact, many of them are union jobs. That means that illegal immigrants are undercutting unions. Democrats are pro-union. Democrats are also pro-immigration. This does not compute. (Republicans oppose both, so at least they get points for consistency)

I know I am committing heresy for even trying to discuss this topic. Left-wing dogma is that illegal immigration is good and anyone who opposes it is a racist xenophobe.

Except I’m not some racist xenophobe. I’ve lived my whole life around immigrants. They are mostly good people. I don’t blame them for coming here because they can make a lot more money. They don’t come here for welfare, they come here to work.

But we need to take care of our own first. Right now the real unemployment rate in this country is about 20%. Add to that the number of people that are underemployed.

Illegal immigration is a complex issue. Before we can fix it, we need to be able to discuss it.

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16 Responses to This doesn’t add up

  1. Lulu says:

    Construction jobs always disappear during the winter in the southern US. It rains, it is cold and construction sites especially public works like roads, bridges, sewer plants etc slow down or close up completely. They cannot do dirt work, concrete work, paint etc because of the temperatures. Secondly they mention Birmingham as having the big loss in jobs. Birmingham is bankrupt. They cannot build anything because they do not have the money nor can they borrow it anymore. This article is bullshit and spinning for pro-immigration slave wage groups.

  2. elliesmom says:

    I’m confusaled. How does a strict immigration law cause job shortages? Are they saying that there are fewer construction jobs because they don’t have enough illegals to fill them? Fewer construction jobs because with fewer illegals there’s not enough demand to have projects to do? Are there fewer jobs because legal citizens get paid more so they can’t afford to hire as many people?

    • Susan says:

      You can’t do construction without dry wallers and there are no white dry wallers left in the US. If there are any, they won’t work for the nine bucks an hour that illegal immigrants worked for.

      If you’re missing one core group of workers, you hold up the whole project.

  3. 1539days says:

    They still have to hire people. Sometimes an employer needs to go through a couple of people before they find one who’s a good worker. I imagine some construction companies aren’t very experienced at actually having to interview people instead of picking them up from the street.

    What could happen is that some businesses will pack up and leave for neighboring states. If you are in Alabama, you might need to hire an out of state construction company. That’s why we need a national immigration policy.

  4. jjmtacoma says:

    I agree. I wish we would hold employers more accountable. I understand if people are hired with fake SS cards and ID but that isn’t how this happens.

    They hire one person as an independent subcontractor and give that person all the money for a “job”. That one hired person staffs his crew and splits the money in some fashion. The employer knows perfectly well that they are underpaying for the “job” and they know perfectly well that the subcontractor is “hiring” illegals.

    It does undercut unions and American workers and has nothing to do with “willingness” to do icky jobs. It does have to do with competition for workers and the wages those workers can command.

    BTW- there have been no-show employees in construction since the dawn of time. The illegals may do the same (not show up consistently) but the employer is studiously not looking at who staffs the project, so they don’t know. All they know is there are warm bodies showing up and doing stuff.

  5. myiq2xu says:

    Alabama would be a good place for this:

    Get a bunch of farmers to agree to participate, guarantee to subsidize costs/cover losses.

    Strictly enforce immigration laws – don’t just check ID’s and SSN’s, verify that they are legit – make sure every employee hired is a citizen or legal resident.

    Use the local unemployment office, probation, parole, employment agencies, whatever to recruit workers. Pay for ads.

    See how many legal workers turn up. If you can’t get enough, raise wages until you can.

    In nearby states (without Alabama’s new law) promise immunity to farmers who allow the government to secretly monitor “business as usual.” Not to enforce or arrest anyone, just to monitor the number of employees, productivity and wages paid.

    Then compare.

  6. HELENK says:

    My son is in construction in Florida. He lost jobs due to being undercut in bidding. He has to make enough on a job to pay his workers, have insurance, pay taxes and make a living. You have illegals underbidding because they have no insurance, underpay the workers, do not pay taxes.
    So saying that Americans will not do the work is false, sometimes they just can not afford to do the job

  7. yttik says:

    I think the article is bogus, but we do have construction companies around here who will literally turn down jobs if they can’t have their illegal crews. They simply can’t afford to pay all the taxes and insurance that is required when you hire US citizens. Some of them are just plain greedy, but many of them are really burdened by labor costs. We are in construction, to hire somebody in my state requires not only the usual payroll taxes, but liability insurance and an additional 4.78 cents per man hour for labor and industries. We may pay somebody 20 bucks an hour, but it cost us 42.50 an hour to do so.

    And we also have some developers here who will not build if they can’t have cheap bids to get it done. One way to present a cheap bid is to lower your labor costs. When your labor costs are practically mandated by regulations and payroll taxes set by the Gov, people only have one option, to hire illegals.

    • 1539days says:

      Right now, I assume there are more construction workers than jobs, so businesses who were hanging by a thread would disappear if costs went up. Eventually, increased demand would lead to more employment.

    • crawdad says:

      If everyone is obeying the law that puts them on an even playing field. The problem is when only some of them are obeying the law.

  8. djmm says:

    Thoughtful post, Myiq — thanks!


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