Loose Lips

Report: D.C. Stinks At Getting Residents Hired in Construction Jobs

Here's something you probably already knew: the District's construction boom isn't translating to jobs for District residents.

A new report, commissioned by the laborers' union, found that D.C. has the lowest percentage of residents working in the construction industry compared to Boston, Philadelphia, New York, and Baltimore. Meanwhile, residents of D.C.'s suburbs are more likely to have construction jobs than suburbanites of any of the aforementioned Northeastern cities.

The District only has about 8,700 residents, or 2.9 percent of its population, working construction, compared to 7.3 percent of the area's suburbs, according to the nonprofit research group, Good Jobs First, that produced the report. The rate of construction-related jobs in the other cities ranges from 4 percent to 5.8 percent.

“The failure of area contractors to employ District residents is shocking,” says Thomas Cafcas, the report's author.

Cafcas says the reasons contractors give for not hiring District residents—including their lack of education/training and habitual drug use—don't square with the higher construction numbers found in other cities or the fact that there's almost no educational requirement needed for bottom-rung construction jobs. He recommends the city strengthen its efforts to enforce the recently beefed-up First Source law, which requires contractors to hire District residents. Unions love First Source, while several contractors despise it, saying it creates an unfair caste system and forces them to hire subpar workers.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • drez

    <i Unions love First Source
    No, they don't. And don't let them pretend that they are. They are at best indifferent to it.
    In fact, on many jobs unions get in line for jobs before DC residents, and the union jobs are based on seniority, not residency status.

  • Janna

    I know plenty of DC residents that are skilled labor. My husband is a journey man carpenter but can't find a job in the Union, but these non-union contractors want to pay him $12.50 an hr when he was use to getting paid $30an hr. He knows how to read plans and has all his OSHA certification. They didn't even want to meet him in the middle. So he has to settle for a job that is out his field to even get $18. No drug use or convictions. They are getting a tax break from DC for hiring people. And they rather hire unskilled people and pay less while getting that tax break.

  • Typical DC BS

    Want to scare up jobs at construction sites? Go to any big jobsite in DC, shout "la migra" a couple times with a bullhorn while walking around and watch the illegal aliens flee. Plenty of jobs will open up.

    But, here in politically correct la-la land, nobody wants to face the facts.

  • Daddy Grace Fish Sandwich

    Many illegal alien Salvadorans/Central Americans and Mexicans are working on D.C. construction sites. The D.C. Council have turned a blind eye to illegals working in the District because it's a liberal government.

  • eric

    Comparing DC to New York is hardly fair, given that New York includes Staten Island and Queens, while PG County where many blue collar workers live is outside the city border.

  • Java Master

    The immigrant labor pool is vast, hard working and multi-skilled. I'll take 'em anyday and treat them fairly.

  • J/O BS

    Each and every member of the DC Council knew these jobs were coming and that DOES is still too incompetent when it comes to linking DC residents to meaningful long term local employment and skills. We need a competent DOES Director. Exploiting Lationo's at wages and benefits unfit for most Americans is a moral crime that DC's leaders shld be held accountable for. Developers are pimps with a willing line up of Councilmembers eager to do their bidding.

    I we had better news companies, they'd do a better job of highlighting and investigating these problems.

  • CityRez

    Employers hire people who work hard, show up on time and get the job done. No mystery here. If you want to work in DC, the jobs are there. It's a no-brainer.