- Israel has struck a deal with China that will see the country import as many as 20,000 Chinese workers in order to alleviate a severe labor shortage in the country, according to the Engineering News-Record.
- Israeli Housing Minister Yoav Galant has said that within six months of both countries executing a final agreement, Israel can expect 6,000 Chinese workers, with the rest being introduced over the coming years.
- Israeli officials said the deal will help to eliminate the ongoing problem of illegal workers and reduce costs, as well as give authorities a better hold on the industry. The labor shortage has led to a slowdown in housing and other construction in the country.
The U.S. is also struggling with its own construction skilled labor shortage. However, the only way U.S. companies can bring in construction workers legally is through the H-2B Temporary Non-Agricultural Workers visa program. Competition is stiff for the prized entry documents, and the Department of Labor issues only 66,000 per year. In the case of the H-2B, seasonal employers with more predictable needs — like retail and hospitality — often gobble up available visas first. Critics of temporary worker programs argue that employers favor foreign labor over Americans to cut costs, but the expense that employers incur in order to participate in the H-2B program almost always far outweigh those necessary to hire similarly qualified domestic workers.
Additionally, President-elect Donald Trump's win brings up yet another question around foreign workers currently employed in the U.S. Officials in industries that rely on undocumented workers — like construction — fear that Trump's hard-line rhetoric against undocumented immigrants will result in those workers leaving the U.S., driving up prices and creating an even tighter labor market. Some have proposed that the incoming Trump administration institute a guest worker program rather than begin a policy of mass deportation, as the construction industry workforce is estimated to be comprised of at least 20% undocumented workers.