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Immigrants flooded California construction. Worker pay sank. Here’s why.

Article CAIRCO note: 
We would note that illegal aliens also flooded California construction.
Article author: 
Natalie Kitroeff
Article publisher: 
LA Times
Article date: 
April 20, 2017
Article category: 
Immigration Impact
Medium
Article Body: 

Construction in Los Angeles has shifted from a heavily unionized labor force that was two-thirds white to a largely non-union one that is 70% Latino and heavily immigrant. [CAIRCO note: they probably mean "heavily illegal alien".]

... In the span of a few decades, Los Angeles area construction went from an industry that was two-thirds white, and largely unionized, to one that is overwhelmingly Latino, mostly nonunion and heavily reliant on immigrants, according to a Los Angeles Times review of federal data.

At the same time, the job got less lucrative. American construction workers today make $5 an hour less than they did in the early 1970s, after adjusting for inflation.

In 1972, construction paid today’s equivalent of $32 an hour, almost $10 more than the average private-sector job. But real wages steadily declined for decades, erasing much of that gap...

But for more than a decade before immigrants [and illegal aliens] flooded the market, contractors and their corporate clients were pushing to undercut construction wages by shunning union labor.

Construction unions, focused on keeping their members happy and employed, fought to keep lucrative work building offices and highways instead of pouring money into recruiting masses of new workers. Nonunion shops made aggressive inroads into home building with workers who had less experience.

The result: Today slightly more than 1 in 10 construction workers are in a union, compared with 4 in 10 in the 1970s.

“Immigrants are not the cause of this, they are the effect,” said Ruth Milkman, a sociologist who has studied the history of construction in Southern California...

The share of immigrants in construction in California jumped from 13% in 1980 to about 43% today, according to a UCLA analysis of federal data...

“Immigrant workers fill jobs that are currently going unfilled because the majority of Americans are over-qualified and are unwilling to take these jobs,” Judson said in written testimony*...

 


 

CAIRCO Note

* Americans are unwilling to take jobs at the prevailing below-market wages.