In the building trades in basic, and in the plumbing, pipefitting, and HVAC trades particularly, it is difficult to argue that Hispanics are not a significant element of the workforce. While the numbers differ from a high of 48 % of the building labor force in New Mexico to a low of less than 1 % in Alaska, Hispanics, both native born and international born, make up about 15 % of the nationwide building labor swimming pool, which is about commensurate with their percent of the national population.

As might be anticipated, the concentrations of these workers are higher along the border states of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, with a huge and growing presence in such non-traditional states as Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas. In general, they have a presence in the construction market in just about every state in the union.

The skinny

I could pound you with a load of dry, analytical information about the percentages of international born non-U.S. citizens and the attendant national statistical information, however that’s not exactly what this article has to do with. Nor is it about the unlawful versus legal alien debate presently raging around the nation. As an example, in my home state of Florida, I was dismayed by how couple of plumbing and HVAC service providers wanted to speak with me (even a few old pals hesitated when I told them that this information was for a publication short article) about their Hispanic workers. The brand-new employer sanctions law has everyone worried, so the majority of exactly what I found out had to be anecdotal and apocryphal with no attribution. We can leave the illegal/legal argument for another day. Today we are speaking about the contribution and effect of this segment of the population as it relates to the trades.

What I wanted to know from the contractors that I spoke to was this: what percentage of your workforce is Hispanic? The average shop I canvassed along the Gulf states held a stable 50 % to 75 % Hispanic workforce.

Exactly what they did not have in basic skills, they made up for in commitment and the determination to improve and learn. One foreman I know had been adamantly opposed to the hiring of Hispanic workers into the trade for a range of factors, both company and individual. I spoke with him for this post after he had the chance to run a team that was heavy on semi-skilled Hispanic employees on a high school job.

He informed me that the cultural differences (many of his guys were from Mexico) were not tough to conquer as soon as the workers were made to understand the importance of things like hiring when they were not going to be at work, jobsite security requirements and things like that. Language was a problem, initially, however was solved by having a bi-lingual assistant who was a journeyman. He likewise informed me that it was among the very best Orlando jobs he had been on, from a manpower point of view.

The actual concern

One would think that commending a staff member for simply appearing and working all day would be an incidental thing, but it is not. One of the reasons that the Hispanic presence is so acutely felt in our industry, aside from the truth that they are excellent employees, is since really couple of locals are entering into the trades, and those that do come in doing this as a “last option” task. The stories of hiring males and not having them reveal up, having them reveal up drunk or drugged out, getting them to do the work and getting them to appear on site frequently are many. When you can’t get local assistance, qualified or not, you’ve got to take what and who you can get to do the job, and the Hispanic employees are right there. After all you’ve got a contract to meet. This is not an anecdotal story; this is from years of real individual experience.

The Hispanic population in America is doing exactly what every immigrant group has actually done before them; they have actually found a location where they can stand out and are exploiting it. They bring untapped capability, skill set and an eagerness to do well at their picked tasks, and without concentrated efforts by the industry at big that seems to be the only method that any new blood is coming in. Great, or even mediocre employees, can not be had at a price that makes sense to the company.

According to the Association for Construction Career Development, there will be 300,000 unfilled jobs at all levels of the market within the next 10 years. Couple that with the efficient average age of building workers today– 48– and it doesn’t take a physicist to see the train wreck heading our way. When high school students place building at # 356 in their profession choice charts (right alongside prostitution, by the way) it’s not hard to see the problem.

A concerted effort requires to be made to get, and keep, new members into the industry and to incorporate all parts of the labor force, Anglo, Hispanic, Black, Native American, anybody who is interested, in the enrollment and training effort. Toward that end the previously mentioned ACCD is pressing a nationwide protocol which bears checking out. I wish to be able to do that in coming issues.

More Electricians Among The Hispanic Population in Houston

Orlando runs a close second in Latino tradesmen of every trade from plumbers, air conditioning, and electricians, according to houstonselectrician.com

The Hispanic trades association are very excited about the increase in latino electricians.

California has long been the land of dreams, luring people from across
the country and increasingly from throughout the world. A good job,
an education, and, most of all, possession of one’s own piece of this
vast and varied state was part and parcel of what drove people here.
Yet today that very dream is threatened by what, for millions of
Californians, is a closed door. Much of the blame lies, ironically, with
the success of the state, a booming economy that created billions in
new wealth and opportunities, turning California into the world’s fifth
largest economy. California’s growth engendered a massive increase
in the cost of housing, with prices, particularly on the coast, reaching
levels well beyond the reach of most state residents. As a result,
despite the good economic times, homeownership in some areas,
such as Los Angeles, actually declined in the 1990s.1
Not all the problems, however, can be blamed on markets. Changes in
the state’s tax structure have provided little incentive for communities
to build more housing; indeed, the current tax system, dependent
largely on retail sales, encourages the development not of homes for
families, but malls for shoppers. At the same time, tough environmental
laws and often a powerful anti-growth lobby make the construction
of new housing, particularly in the low- and moderate-level varieties,
almost impossible. As a result, California home construction in the
past decade lags far behind that of other periods of demographic and
economic growth.
Almost all potential middle- and working-class home buyers have
been affected by the soaring prices. Yet arguably the group most
impacted — and almost certain to feel the sting most acutely —
is Latinos, who represent a plurality of California new households.2
Strongly work-oriented and family-centric, Latinos are natural home
buyers, with a strong, demonstrated cultural affinity for investing
their earnings into residential real estate. Yet increasingly they face
growing obstacles to purchasing homes, often being forced to crowd
several families into one residence or to move to the extreme periphery
of our major urban centers.
If not addressed forcefully, this gap in affordability could create a
potentially dangerous break with our state’s tradition. Earlier waves of
migrants to California — from the homesteaders, to the Depression-era
“dust bowl” refugees, to the post-World War II generation — all found
a California that could reward their hard work with the prospect of
owning a home. Latinos, the predominant new wave of the late twentieth
and early twenty-first centuries, would become the first major
5
Report Findings Include:
• Latino home buyers purchase
more than one in five homes
sold in California.
• More than one-half of all homes
purchased in California by Latinos
are in the five-county Southern
California region, predominantly
in Los Angeles County.
• Nearly two-thirds of U.S.-born
Latinos in California are homeowners,
whereas less than
one-third of Latinos born outside
the U.S. own their own homes.
• Most of California’s Latino homeowners
are recent owners —
44 percent have owned their
homes for fewer than five years,
and more than 70 percent of
their current residences are a
first-time home purchase.
• Family considerations are the
strongest motivation behind
purchasing a home, followed by
owning the home as a financial
investment.
• In purchasing their homes, the
top challenges among California’s
homeowners were “finding the
right home” and “understanding
the home-buying process.” Across
the board, foreign-born Latinos
faced the greatest challenges in
purchasing their homes.
• Foreign-born Latino homeowners
in California devote a considerably
greater amount of their income
to mortgage payments than U.S.-
born homeowners. An average
of 43 percent of their household
income is spent on the monthly
mortgage, compared to 32 percent
among U.S.-born.
Report Findings Include:
Rewarding Ambition: Latinos, Housing, and the Future of California
Executive Summary
6
group to find themselves, through no fault of their own, excluded from owning their piece of
the California dream.
The implications of this failure could be severe. A largely new population, eager to share the
California dream, may become discouraged, alienated, and politically detached. Possible
conflicts between a class of permanent renters and homeowners, particularly with racial
overtones, would not bode well for the state or its future. Worst of all, the inability to own
homes would force many of the most industrious immigrants and second-generation Latinos
out of the state, leaving behind vastly weakened communities.
What is urgently needed, then, is a strong commitment, both by the private and public sectors,
to address this potentially dangerous situation. Although discrimination is still a factor
inhibiting homeownership among Latinos,3 many of the barriers are more aptly described as
economic or cultural and ultimately best addressed through policies that increase the supply
and access to housing to moderate-income people.
The economic issues are perhaps the most paramount. Effort should be made by private,
nonprofit, and public agencies to extend credit to working- and middle-class Californians
who include many of those in the roughly two-thirds of households statewide that cannot
afford a median-price home.4 This would by definition aid Latinos who represent the largest
proportion of moderate-income residents and potential home buyers.
Cultural issues need to be addressed largely by the private sector. Our survey results show
a powerful proclivity on the part of Latinos to purchase homes through Spanish-speaking or
Latino-oriented agencies. Developers also need to be more sensitive to the kinds of housing
products that work for Latino families.
But, ultimately, much of the solution lies in Sacramento and in the varied communities of
this state. Until tax and fiscal policies are enacted that encourage localities to build housing
— as opposed to retail developments — there will be little incentive for them to do so. Only
further out peripheral areas would be developed except for the highest cost housing, something
that would not address the most critical need and would accelerate sprawl.
And in the end, the state and its communities must recognize that housing is a critical part
of the state’s infrastructure — just like roads, transit, water, or power systems. Housing is
the fundamental thing that roots Californians to the state and allows companies to tap labor
markets critical to their growth. Housing for Latinos is not about one sector or one ethnic
group; it is about the very essence, the future of California for us all.
Report Findings Include:
• The vast majority of the Latino
renting population are immigrants;
80 percent were born
outside the U.S. — 66 percent
in Mexico.
• Nearly one-half of all Latino
renters pay more than 30 percent
of their monthly income in rent;
more than one-third pay more
than 40 percent.
• Among renters who previously
attempted to purchase a home,
the top two reasons for being
declined are: “bad credit/no
credit” and “insufficient income
for down payment/no money.”
• Overall, Latino renters are very
optimistic about their likelihood
of purchasing a home at some
point in the near future — nearly
70 percent are confident they
can purchase a home within
five years.
• Most prospective Latino home
buyers hope to purchase a singlefamily
home — more than half
of them are looking for a home
of $150,000 or less with a down
payment of $10,000 or less.
• More than 65 percent of potential
home buyers prefer to conduct
the home-buying process in
Spanish — 78 percent prefer
to work with a Latino real estate
agent and 63 percent prefer
to deal with a Latino lender
representative.
Report Findings continued:
Rewarding Ambition: Latinos, Housing, and the Future of California
Introduction
California’s housing crisis is partly the product of auspicious circumstances — rapid economic
expansion and population growth have elevated California’s international prominence and position.
But this growth and success is also creating the conditions for the state’s immense housing shortages
and out-of-control prices.
Providing housing for its diverse, burgeoning population impacts every aspect of California life.
It determines increasingly where workers go, companies locate, and how attractive our communities
are. Despite the urgency of the housing crisis, it has remained relatively low on the public policy
agenda. Relatively scant attention and limited resources have been dedicated to addressing this
crucial concern in Sacramento. Yet left unaddressed, California’s housing crisis could have
detrimental consequences for the Golden State for decades to come.
Rapid Economic Growth and Record Immigration
Emerging from a debilitating recession during the early 1990s, California has since staged a spectacular
resurgence — becoming the nation’s undisputed linchpin of the New Economy. Driven by the
state’s economic diversity, technological ingenuity, and a resilient entrepreneurial spirit, California
returned to a path of sustained economic prosperity, becoming a virtual job-making engine fueled
by vast pools of human capital from around the world. Employment soared in California — as 2.8
million new jobs were produced from the beginning of 1993 to mid-2002.5
Even as California rose from the shadows of retrenchment into economic prominence, it continued
to be a primary destination for millions of newcomers from around the world in search of improved
opportunities. During this period, the country as a whole experienced one of the greatest immigration
booms in its history — adding 11.2 million new immigrants over the previous decade, a record
since the passage of the 1965 Immigration Act.6 No part of the country felt the impact of this surge
more than California, which brought in one-quarter of all these newcomers.
Today, one in four California residents are foreign-born, the highest percentage of any state. About
9 million foreign-born people live in the Golden State, more than twice the number for second-place
New York.7 A majority of Californians are now non-White. Latinos and Asians comprise the fastest
growing segments of the state’s population, representing nearly 80 percent of all new immigrants
between 1990 and 2000. By mid-century, the ascending Latino population will likely become the
majority ethnic group in the state.
California’s Greatest Challenge
Yet, for all its economic vibrancy and impressive growth — and due to it as well — California confronts
a severe housing crisis that jeopardizes its own long-term economic health as it struggles for
ways to house this growing population of 35 million. Population growth demonstrates no immediate
signs of slowing down and is projected to top 50 million by 2040.8 This growth, combined with a
severe shortfall in new housing supply, has spurred a price spiral that may slow but not reverse in
the foreseeable future.9
7 Rewarding Ambition: Latinos, Housing, and the Future of California
Introduction
8
The problem is most acute among lower wage workers, such as in manufacturing and service
positions, who are least financially equipped to cope with the fast-rising prices. This population,
according to Milken Institute demographer William Frey, is disproportionately Latino and likely
to remain this way for the conceivable future.