Profile of domestic workers in the U.S.

The National Domestic Workers Alliance published in 2012 the first-ever survey of domestic workers in the U.S. “HomeEconomics: The Invisible and Unregulated World of Domestic Work.”

World of Domestic Work” covers many aspects of the working lives of these workers, their legal status in labor protections, and who they are. Here are a few demographic facts:

Percentage foreign born: 46%. In contrast, 16% of the entire workforce is foreign born.

Of those foreign born what percentage undocumented: 47%. In contrast, for the entire immigrant workforce, about one third are undocumented.

Percentage Latino/a: 60%. In contrast, 16% of the entire workforce is Latino/Hispanic.

Construction fatalities fall on immigrant workers

The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) issued a report on Monday, ” The Price of Life: 2015 Report on Construction Fatalities in NYC.” A passage in the report addressed the burden on Hispanic and immigrant workers:

Latino and immigrant workers deal with disproportionate deadly risks in construction.

Latinos make up 25 percent of NYS construction workers, but represented 38 percent of construction fatalities in New York in 2012. Nationally, Latino construction fatalities increased from 182 in 2010 to 233 in 2013.

A study of the medical records of 7,000 U.S. Latino construction workers found that they were 30 percent more likely than white non-Latino workers to be injured on the job. Several studies have shown that lack of training is one reason for the higher injury rates of Latino construction workers.

In addition, many New York construction workers are non-citizens, according to the U.S. Census’s American Community Survey, including 40 percent of New York’s 124,240 construction laborers, 36 percent of the 7,710 drywall installers, 28 percent of the 10,405 roofers and 25 percent of the 88,475 carpenters. They, too, are less likely to receive safety training.

People of color and immigrant construction workers are more likely to work off the books, to be misclassified as independent contractors, to work as day laborers, or to have limited English proficiency that does not often include technical terms, and therefore are less likely to receive safety training.

Eighty percent of immigrant workers in construction are Latino. A Center for Popular Democracy report finding showed that 60% of New York construction fall fatalities OSHA investigated from 2003 to 2011 were Latino and or immigrant. In addition, non-unionized contractors are less likely to provide safe work conditions, OSHA training and safety equipment.

Undocumented workers are less likely to refuse to work in hazardous conditions or speak up for better health and safety conditions for fear they will be fired or deported. In-depth information on all cases is difficult to come by, as many fatalities are announced prior to names being released, and there are no follow-up media reports.




Trends in the undocumented workforce

The Pew Research Center reports  on changes in the undocumented workforce in America: “the U.S. unauthorized immigrant workforce now holds fewer blue-collar jobs and more white-collar ones than it did before the 2007-2009 recession, but a solid majority still works in low-skilled service, construction and production occupations.” The undocumented workforce in 2012 is estimated at 8.1 million.


“The size of the unauthorized immigrant labor force did not change from 2007 to 2012, but its makeup shifted slightly. The number of unauthorized immigrants in management or professional related jobs grew by 180,000, while the number in construction or production jobs fell by about 475,000, mirroring rises and declines in the overall U.S. economy. The share of all unauthorized immigrant workers with management and professional jobs grew to 13% in 2012 from 10% in 2007, and the share with construction or production jobs declined to 29% from 34%.


“In 2012, 62% held service, construction and production jobs, twice the share of U.S.-born workers who did. The 13% share with management or professional jobs is less than half of the 36% of U.S.-born workers in those occupations.”