How will new Samsung factory affect construction jobs?

TAYLOR, Texas (KXAN) — According to the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report, Texas lost more than 46,000 construction jobs since the pandemic began, more than any other state, including California and New York.

But experts say there’s reason for optimism. As Samsung plans to build a $17 billion chipmaking plant in Taylor, Texas, the construction industry in the state is rebounding.

Ken Simonson, Chief Economist at the General Contractors of America, says the Austin area is coming back particularly strong, with more than 70,000 people employed in construction last month, a record October locally.

“I think this is a very positive signal for Austin as a destination for manufacturers, in addition as high tech companies more generally,” he said.

Construction on the Samsung plant is expected to begin early next year, and Simonson says having enough workers to build it will be a balancing act.

On one hand, he says it will attract more construction workers to the area. But Simonson also expects supply chain issues to affect projects’ ability to get materials on a timely basis. He also worries about a comparatively low COVID-19 vaccination rate in the construction industry.

“It leaves the industry unprotected to a flare-up of the disease, in addition as to regulations,” he noted.

Frank Fuentes, who leads the U.S. Hispanic Contractors Association, is more optimistic. He says the prestige and extent of the Samsung project will draw all the workers it needs. Fuentes doesn’t expect any ‘help wanted’ signs for construction at this new plant.

“It’s going to bring a lot of attention to this vicinity, but more importantly when you have that kind of attention, resources also come with it,” he said.

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