After Florida's building boom, work eludes day laborers

Here, he waits -- sometimes up to eight hours -- in hopes that a passing pickup truck or van en route to a job site will stop and offer him work, even for a fraction of what he earned only a year ago.

Day laborers such as Javier once powered South Florida's building boom. For almost three years, he worked six days a week, making about $100 a day on construction sites from Miami-Dade to Palm Beach. The work helped him rent an apartment, feed his family and send money back to his southern Mexican village, where he bought a small plot of land for a home he hopes to build.

Now Javier is among the legions of day workers in South Florida desperately chasing a dwindling number of construction jobs. Today, only a handful of the cranes that once cluttered the local skyline are still visible.

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