NAHB Seeks More Guest Workers in Reform Bill

Washington, DC, April 23, 2013 -- The National Association of Home Builders is lobbying lawmakers to improve the guest worker provisions in proposed immigration reform to address labor shortages in the industry.

NAHB Chairman Rick Judson urged Congress to implement a new market-based visa system that would allow more immigrants to legally enter the construction workforce each year.

“Despite our efforts to recruit and train American workers through the HBI Job Corps program and other programs, our industry faces a very real impediment to full recovery if work is delayed or even cancelled due to worker shortages,” said Judson.

“A new, workable visa program would complement our skills training efforts within the nation’s borders, and fill the labor gaps needed to meet the nation’s housing needs.”

In a recent survey of NAHB’s membership, 46% of the builders surveyed experienced delays in completing projects on time, 15% had to turn down some projects and 9% lost or cancelled sales as a result of recent labor shortages.

Foreign-born workers account for 22% of the construction labor force, according to the Census Bureau.

Also, trades with a high concentration of immigrant workers also tend to have more vacancies and labor shortages. There are currently 116,000 unfilled positions open in the construction sector – a post-recession high, NAHB said.

NAHB believes Senate bill S. 744 is unworkable for the residential construction industry.

“First and foremost, the program wrongly singles out the construction industry with a discriminating set of rules, including an arbitrary and meager cap that not only ignores but rejects the value of the housing industry to the nation’s GDP,” said Judson.

“Our industry, which in normal times accounts for more than 17% of the nation’s total economic output, should be afforded the same opportunities as any other sector of the economy. Congress must reassess this critical flaw in the legislation.”

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