National Hispanic Heritage Month in the United States begins on September 15th, and occurs at the same time Mexico, Central America, and Chile celebrate their independence from Spain. This is a month-long celebration of Hispanic contributions to the history and culture of the U.S. It offers us an opportunity to look at Hispanic contributions to the construction industry and some ways to better support Hispanic workers.
Hispanic workers are very important to the U.S. construction industry. In 2021, they made up more than 30 percent of the labor force. This is nearly double from 20 years ago: in 2001, about 16 percent of construction workers were Hispanic.
Yet Hispanics account for less than 20 percent of the U.S. population. So they are overrepresented in construction work. This is incredibly important, as there is a large labor shortage in the United States’ construction industry.
The numbers are even more clear-cut in Southwestern states. In Texas, California, and Arizona, for example, Hispanics are 61 percent, 55 percent, and 49 percent of the construction workforce, respectively.
The labor provided by Hispanic workers greatly contributes to the success of the construction industry. It is important for construction firms to help Hispanic workers feel less isolated from coworkers who don’t speak Spanish. Construction Executive, a magazine that covers the construction industry, has three suggestions to improve the work-life of Hispanic laborers: increasing Spanish language skills and signage across all levels of the industry; educating the public about career opportunities in construction and hiring a more diverse set of workers; hiring Hispanics from underserved communities and giving them the opportunity to reach more senior positions, where diversity is lacking.
Making these changes would recognize Hispanic contributions to the construction industry and help build a stronger, more diverse workforce.