The Need for Workers Heightens in Hurricane Harvey Recovery
As many have heard by now, areas in Texas are going through a crisis after Hurricane Harvey hit. Not only were there high winds but an immense amount of flooding which led to completely ruined houses. This flooding took place mainly in Houston. Expenses for fixing these houses and all the damage that took place in Houston is unimaginable, and most of the residents that previously lived there lost all their belongings in their homes as well. Not only will those affected by this hurricane need their homes cleaned up, but stores and commercial areas too. On August 27, waters reached 5 feet in some streets lined with fast-food restaurants, strip malls, and churches. There is a tremendous opportunity for foreign workers to use Hurricane Harvey as an opportunity to obtain job openings in the Texas area.
Workers Are in High Demand, Domestic and Foreign
Workers have lined up to tear apart drenched carpets, carry worn down belongings to the streets and shred through mold-infested drywall. People are finding it more complicated to find workers to complete tasks for as little money as they have to offer. A pickup driver who was promised $50 for 2 hours to rip out wet carpeting and move furniture was told the job was too short to be worthwhile. All of the debris will make a high demand for workers who are skilled in plumbing, electric, and construction. Employers are generally small, uncontrolled contractors or individual homeowners, resulting in a lack of oversight that creates potential workers to be unpaid or work in dangerous conditions.
Everybody is very devastated over the influence the hurricane had on their city, but some show signs of great hope for more job opportunities in the area. “When there is work, you can live a good life” Armando Rivera, 36-year-old Honduran spoke about the situation. Armando said it was painful to see so many people die and lose their home, but the storm would jolt the local construction economy. There was a shortage of construction workers even before Harvey struck. Nationwide unemployment in construction and the construction fields was at 4.7% in August, down from 5.1% a year earlier. This has been the lowest for any August since the government began keeping track in 2000. Before Hurricane Harvey demolished Houston and the surrounding area, shortages of skilled labor were so bad in Texas that builders estimated it added as much as a month-and-half in additional time to the construction of a new house.
Should We Expect an Increase in Visa Applications?
The Pew Research Center estimates that 15 percent of construction workers are in the U.S. without legal authorization. According to Scott Norman, executive director of the Texas Association of Builders, the U.S. will need to figure a way to get more legal foreign workers to assist with the Harvey rebuilding as part of a comprehensive reform of immigration law. The victims of Harvey need as much help as they can get, as soon as they can get it. The United States government is expecting to receive a small increase in visa applications for low-skilled jobs due to the influx of need for construction, electric, plumbing, even doctors, and nurses.
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