A bill that will make it easier for laborers from other countries to work in the U.S. has been introduced in Congress.
Proposed by Pennsylvania Representative Lloyd Smucker, the Workforce for an Expanding Economy Act will create a temporary federal visa program designed to specifically make up for the lack of available U.S. workers in the construction industry.
According to Florida Representative Francis Rooney, co-sponsor of the bill, the measure would require that employers first document that they were “unable to find American workers for vacant positions, pay them fair wages based on local wage data, and would use E-Verify to make sure only legal immigrants are hired.”
Continues Rooney, in a statement: “This would greatly benefit the construction and hospitality industries, which are facing severe worker shortages.”
The measure has won the backing of the Associated General Contractors. Stephen Sandherr, chief executive officer of that group, said the current shortage of “available, qualified workers in many parts of the country threatens to undermine continued economic growth.”
Noting that some 80 percent of reporting construction firms nationally last year said they were having a difficult time finding qualified workers, Sandherr added: “Creating a temporary, flexible worker visa system will allow all types of economic development to proceed without cost delays caused by workforce shortages.”
The Workforce for an Expanding Economy Act is currently under review in both the House Judiciary and House Ways and Means Committees.
By Garry Boulard
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