How Immigrants Strengthen the Economies of All 50 States

Written by on August 4, 2016 in Economics, State by State, Tax Contributions with 0 Comments

6848823919_c3857ccdfc_oThe economic and political impact of immigration is often discussed at the national level. This makes sense, especially since immigration is a nationwide issue and a federal responsibility. Yet this national focus often obscures the effects of immigration within particular states.

Perhaps the most systematic and comprehensive effort so far to direct public attention to the effects of immigration within each state comes from the Partnership for a New American Economy; a group which “brings together more than 500 Republican, Democratic, and Independent mayors and business leaders united in making the economic case for streamlining, modernizing, and rationalizing our immigration system.” The Partnership has released a comprehensive set of reports detailing “the contributions of New Americans” in each state.

As an example of what each of these reports contains, consider California, which has long been a destination of immigrants. Not surprisingly, the economic power and political clout wielded by California’s immigrants is considerable. As of 2014:

  • 5 million immigrants comprised 27 percent of the population and 35 percent of the workforce.
  • Immigrant-owned businesses generated $20.2 billion in business income, and 1.5 million people were employed by firms owned by immigrants.
  • Immigrants paid $49.5 billion into the Social Security and Medicare programs, and had $238.7 billion in spending power.
  • Students on temporary visas comprised 27.5 percent of students earning a doctoral degree in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
  • Just under half of immigrants were naturalized U.S. citizens.
  • 5 million immigrants were eligible to vote, while 2.9 million were registered voters.
  • 5 million unauthorized immigrants paid $2.7 billion in federal taxes and $1.6 billion in state and local taxes—leaving them with $34.3 billion in spending power.

Likewise, in another state accustomed to receiving immigrants, New York:

  • 5 million immigrants comprised 23 percent of the state’s population and 28 percent of the workforce.
  • Immigrant-owned businesses generated $6.1 billion in business income, and 497,000 million people were employed by firms owned by immigrants.
  • Immigrants paid $17.4 billion into the Social Security and Medicare programs, and had $103.3 billion in spending power.
  • Students on temporary visas comprised 40.7 percent of students earning a doctoral degree in STEM.
  • 6 percent of immigrants were naturalized U.S. citizens.
  • 3 million immigrants were eligible to vote, while 1.3 million were registered voters.
  • 886,000 unauthorized immigrants paid $1.6 billion in federal taxes and $1 billion in state and local taxes—leaving them with $15.8 billion in spending power.

Even in a state like Georgia that hasn’t experienced large immigrant inflows until recently:

  • 991,000 immigrants comprised 10 percent of the state’s population and 14 percent of the workforce.
  • Immigrant-owned businesses generated $1.5 billion in business income, and 137,000 people were employed by firms owned by immigrants.
  • Immigrants paid $3.6 billion into the Social Security and Medicare programs, and had $19.2 billion in spending power.
  • Students on temporary visas comprised 40.2 percent of students earning a doctoral degree in STEM.
  • 6 percent of immigrants were naturalized U.S. citizens.
  • 392,000 immigrants were eligible to vote, while 205,000 were registered voters.
  • 29,788 unauthorized immigrants paid $387.6 million in federal taxes and $245 million in state and local taxes—leaving them with $4.8 billion in spending power.

It is not by coincidence that the wealth of information released by the Partnership on the economic and political clout of immigrants in each of the 50 states—and the District of Columbia—coincides with the presidential election campaign. As John Feinblatt, the Partnership’s chairman, tells the Wall Street Journal: “Immigration will be a top issue for the next president. Not only do Americans want reform, our economy needs it.” And the Partnership has the facts and figures to demonstrate that immigrants are an economic and electoral powerhouse in many states across the country.

Photo Courtesy of 401(K) 2012.

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