“Widespread Wage Theft” in Texas Construction Industry

Employee misclassification and unpaid wages are rampant in the Lone Star State’s construction sector, according to a new report from the University of Texas and the non-profit Workers Defense Project.

NPR reports that about half of the state’s 1 million construction workers are undocumented, leaving them at higher risk of exploitation. Staggeringly, the report found that 41% of all Texas construction employees are misclassified as subcontractors. Along with massive unpaid federal taxes, that means 400,000 workers are being denied benefits like workers’ compensation.

Construction is a particularly cruel industry in which to expose workers to injury without the protection of benefits:

[W]orking Texas construction is a good way to die while not making a good living. More construction workers die in Texas than in any other state, the WDP-UT study finds. With 10.7 deaths per 100,000 workers in 2010, construction workers in the lightly regulated Lone Star State died at twice the rate as those in California, with a rate of 5.2. That’s compared with the U.S. rate of 8.8 in that same year.

You can peruse the full report here.