WASHINGTON, D.C. — Houston area leaders are expressing concern about labor shortages, including a lack of immigrant workers to help rebuild the city in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
After extensive property damage, the city will require extra labor for cleanup, demolition and reconstruction, and the area’s construction workforce has increasingly relied on foreign-born workers.
“Houston can’t rebound without the whole community. We need all American workers — including immigrant workers — to rebuild our city from the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey,” said Stan Marek, CEO of Marek Brothers Construction in Houston. “And, as we rebuild, I urge our elected leaders to extend some type of legal status to undocumented workers that would protect them from unscrupulous employers and would fully include them in the economy and our community.”
The construction industry nationwide is experiencing labor shortages, and the problem is particularly acute in Texas, where construction and related service industries are disproportionately reliant on immigrant labor.
Houston has long enjoyed a relatively tight labor market, with a 5.3 percent unemployment rate as of June.
“Houston’s diversity has long been its strength. Its workforce — both native-born and immigrant — will be critical to recovery and will give the city its best chance at a strong comeback,” said Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum. “Rebuilding the city will require the work of Americans and immigrants who live in and love Houston.”