Perhaps the crisis is most vividly seen in the drop-off in work for day laborers. Until recently, day laborers such as those clustered along Roosevelt Avenue in Queens found plentiful jobs every day during the city’s building boom. But now, the men — their ranks thinning — anxiously wait for work that will not come, said Luis Alfonso, a construction worker who declined to give his last name. They can go two weeks without work, he said.
“No work, no money, no good,” said the Colombian native who cares for three daughters. “It’s big problems.”
In New York City, immigrants make up 37 percent of the population and contribute to 46 percent of the labor force, according to a 2007 report by the Fiscal Policy Institute. (The city’s undocumented workers make up 10 percent of the resident work force.) But experts say those numbers are falling as the joblessness rates rise.
Employed immigrants aren’t necessarily working in good conditions, said Wing Lam, executive director of the Chinese Staff and Workers’ Association. “The wages are going down. Jobs that pay more now pay less.”