Deporting undocumented construction workers in the US could slash the industry’s gross domestic product (GDP) by as much as 8%, according to new report compiled by the nonpartisan National Bureau of Economic Research.
The working paper, released Nov. 14 by two economics professors at Queens College and titled “The Economic Contribution of Unauthorized Workers: An Industry Analysis,” estimates an immediate drop of $30.9 billion (5%) in the industry’s GDP, and a long-term decline of $47.6 billion from a 2013 industry total output of $619.87 billion. The same report estimates that legalization of undocumented construction workers could precipitate an immediate 1.2% jump (about $7.7 billion annually) and a long-term rise of 1.9% ($12.1 billion annually).
If president-elect Trump follows through on promises to drastically reduce the number of undocumented individuals residing in the United States, homebuilders would face a significant labor shortage, resulting in fewer homes built annually.
“But over the longer term, you’re going to have to pay workers more,” Randy Capps, director of research for US programs at the Migration Policy Institute, told Bloomberg BNA’s Elliott T. Dube. “That’s going to make your houses more expensive to build, and that’s going to affect the planning of how many you can afford to build, and that’s going to mean some construction firms leave the industry.”
It is estimated that undocumented laborers make up as much as 14% of the US construction industry workforce. And Donald Trump has personally benefitted from them—as many as 150 undocumented Polish laborers worked on the construction of Trump Tower in Manhattan in 1979 and 1980. Many allegedly went uncompensated.
Whether this will inform the president-elect’s forthcoming deportation policy remains to be seen.