Thursday, June 26, 2014

Immigrants and the Economy

The essential economy—which encompasses the food services and hospitality industries, construction, agriculture, elder care, and manufacturing—is fundamental to the U.S. economy and society as a whole. Immigrants’ participation in these sectors creates new jobs for native-born workers, contributes to the growth of construction and agriculture, and provides essential care to the United States’ aging population.

This fact sheet—the tenth in the series on immigrants and the economy—details five reasons why immigrants are vital to the success of the essential economy. AS/COA’s Get the Facts series provides key data points and is a resource for journalists, policymakers, business leaders, and others who are looking to better understand the contributions of immigrants to U.S. cities.

Five Ways Immigrants Drive the Essential Economy:

1. Immigrants play a critical role in supporting the food service and hospitality industries by meeting labor market demand and creating jobs as small-business owners. Despite accounting for 13 percent of the U.S. population, immigrants represent 22 percent of workers in the food service industry. In 2010, 37 percent of all restaurant small-business owners were foreign-born.

2. Immigrants are supporting growth of the construction industry, which is expected to create 1.8 million additional jobs by 2020. As of 2011, immigrants represented 22 percent of this essential labor force.

3. Nearly three-fourths of agriculture workers—essential to getting food from our farms to our supermarkets— are foreign-born. A rise in restrictive immigration laws is producing labor shortages and production cutbacks.

4. With a rapidly aging U.S. population, immigrants help to meet the increasing demand for in-home health aids and assisted living for seniors. With the elderly population expected to more than double by 2040, it is projected that the demand for personal care and home health aides will grow by 46 and 50 percent, respectively, between 2008 and 2018.

5. Immigrants play an outsize role in the manufacturing industry, keeping middle-class jobs in the U.S. and helping to revitalize declining economies across the country. In Arizona, a reduction of only 10 percent in the foreign-born manufacturing workforce would result in the loss of up to $100 million in tax revenue and the loss of 12,000 full-time jobs.


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