Another Perspective on Immigrants

Another Perspective on Immigrants

Ten Ways Immigrants Help Build and Strengthen Our Economy

By Jason Furman & Danielle Gray
July 12, 2012

America is a nation of immigrants. Our American journey and our success would simply not be possible without the generations of immigrants who have come to our shores from every corner of the globe. It is helpful to take a moment to reflect on the important contributions by the generations of immigrants who have helped us build our economy, and made America the economic engine of the world.

How do immigrants strengthen the U.S. economy? Below is our top 10 list for ways immigrants help to grow the American economy.

1. Immigrants Start Businesses

According to the Small Business Administration, immigrants are 30 percent more likely to start a business in the United States than non-immigrants, and 18 percent of all small business owners in the United States are immigrants.

2. Immigrant-Owned Businesses Create Jobs for American Workers

According to the Fiscal Policy Institute, small businesses owned by immigrants employed an estimated 4.7 million people in 2007, and according to the latest estimates, these small businesses generated more than $776 billion annually.

3. Immigrants Are Also More Likely to Create Their Own Jobs

According the U.S. Department of Labor, 7.5 percent of the foreign born are self-employed compared to 6.6 percent among the native-born.

4. Immigrants Develop Cutting-Edge Technologies and Companies

According to the National Venture Capital Association, immigrants have started 25 percent of public U.S. companies that were backed by venture capital investors. This list includes Google, eBay, Yahoo!, Sun Microsystems, and Intel.

5. Immigrants Are Our Engineers, Scientists, and Innovators

According to the Census Bureau, despite making up only 16 percent of the resident population holding a bachelor’s degree or higher, immigrants represent 33 percent of engineers, 27 percent of mathematicians, statisticians, and computer scientist, and 24 percent of physical scientists. Additionally, according to the Partnership for a New American Economy, in 2011, foreign-born inventors were credited with contributing to more than 75 percent of patents issued to the top 10 patent-producing universities.

6. Immigration Boosts Earnings for American Workers

Increased immigration to the United States has increased the earnings of Americans with more than a high school degree. Between 1990 and 2004, increased immigration was correlated with increasing earnings of Americans by 0.7 percent and is expected to contribute to an increase of 1.8 percent over the long-term, according to a study by the University of California at Davis.

7. Immigrants Boost Demand for Local Consumer Goods

The Immigration Policy Center estimates that the purchasing power of Latinos and Asians, many of whom are immigrants, alone will reach $1.5 trillion and $775 billion, respectively, by 2015.

8. Immigration Reform Legislation Like the DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Reduces the Deficit

According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, under the 2010 House-passed version of the DREAM Act, the federal deficit would be reduced by $2.2 billion over ten years because of increased tax revenues.

9. Comprehensive Immigration Reform Would Create Jobs

Comprehensive immigration reform could support and create up to 900,000 new jobs within three years of reform from the increase in consumer spending, according to the Center for American Progress.

10. Comprehensive Immigration Reform Would Increase America’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product)

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that even under low investment assumptions, comprehensive immigration reform would increase the GDP by between 0.8 percent and 1.3 percent from 2012 to 2016.

As a nation of immigrants, we must remember that generations of immigrants have helped lay the railroads and build our cities, pioneer new industries and fuel our Information Age, from Google to the iPhone. As President Obama said at a naturalization ceremony held at the White House last week:

"The lesson of these 236 years is clear – immigration makes America stronger. Immigration makes us more prosperous. And immigration positions America to lead in the 21st century. And these young men and women are testaments to that. No other nation in the world welcomes so many new arrivals. No other nation constantly renews itself, refreshes itself with the hopes, and the drive, and the optimism, and the dynamism of each new generation of immigrants. You are all one of the reasons that America is exceptional. You’re one of the reasons why, even after two centuries, America is always young, always looking to the future, always confident that our greatest days are still to come."

We celebrate the contributions of all Americans to building our nation and its economy, including the generations of immigrants.

Jason Furman is Principal Deputy Director of the National Economic Council and Danielle Gray is Deputy Director of the National Economic Council.

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Published in Senior Chatters


    1. laurie Post author

      Point well taken Powder, the only people who did not immigrate to this country are in fact the Native Americans. Thank you for your comment.

  1. vonMichael

    The USA are not Europe and Europe is not the USA. What works in the USA and what seems to be good for the USA must not be good for Europe and should never be adopted by our country leaders!

    And on top of this the USA have no grown history like England, France, Spain or my country. On the other hand the Indians may have developed the country as well as the emigrants did whereas I know that this kind of consideration is nothing else than hypothetical.

    1. roseinbloom

      vonmichael, USA had and has a lot of land to fill and we were tied to history so we became a “melting pot”. We have history, it is just shorter.

  2. starlette

    Think there is a huge difference in immigration that took place many many years ago……and the big problems that current immigration is causing now in my country the UK………..and It would appear in so many others also…….

  3. patak

    Immigration an emotive subject. My view is that it is a political football used by certain politicians to raise their profile from insignificant small minded people who we have foolishly elected to positions of power. Should we in the UK go down the road of restricting people from either the EU or other countries coming to the UK then we will be poorer both culturally and financially. The rabid views spouted by self seeking politicians disgusts me most are nothing more than racists something this country has sacrificed so many lives to eradicate. Ty Laurie for continuing this discussion and putting a much more balanced view on this subject. Pat xx

  4. roseinbloom

    Laurie, Thank you for posting this economic list, but the richness and variety of cultures of immigrants have made America so much better than one group could have ever done. I love the cultural richness and variety of our big cities. I just went for a Vietnamese lunch. I will never get to Vietnam, but I can share the food and the Vietnamese people who work there. I study as much as I can of their religions and their ways also.

    1. laurie Post author

      Rose I have focused on the economic aspect here in response to the previous blog and comments on immigrants. Having lived in New York City, where over 100 languages are spoken, for 17 years I am most appreciative of the cultural diversity brought to this country by our immigrants. My time in New York included several years’ employment with the U.S. Refugee Office where I both worked with and provided services to refugees and immigrants from Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, China, the Philippines, Haiti and Cuba. Thank you for your comment Rose.

  5. vonMichael

    I don’t want to bring up any kind of political debate on here but after that latest CIA report has been released only heaven knows what will come up on American population in the near future.

    I assume it could be the worst.

    Remember: ** hatred can never get beaten by any kind of weapons **!

  6. Gael

    America is a nation of immigrants, always was. Built by immigrants and made strong by diversity.

    The problem in the Uk right now Laurie, is they don’t necessarily get immigrants who stay and contribute to the country as much as come in from Europe which now the UK is part of, and get benefits and leave with them back to their own country were they reside but still collect uk benefits. That’s the most offensive scenario.

    It’s a different dynamic then the traditonal one in the US.

    1. laurie Post author

      Gael as I stated in one of my comments on your previous blog on immigrants, I can’t speak for the UK as I don’t live there. The article I have reprinted here is clearly concerned only with the topic as it applies to the U.S. Thank you for your comment.

      1. Gael

        Ahh, sorry Laurie I didn’t fully realize that. A different story. So it’s a different perspective on American immigrants.

        1. roseinbloom

          Gael, It is not very easy for American immigrants to get back, except for some Mexican immigrants. Most come for economic opportunities and they have children and become rooted.

          1. Gael

            Rose, wasn’t talking about American immigrants if you reread my original comments. But was referring to what occurs in the UK.

            Therein lay the mixup as Laurie pointed out.

  7. Jsmile

    This applies to the US but I wanted to shed some light on the issue. If I read the first post relating to this issue correctly, it not so much has to do with “legal immigration” but the “illegals” crossing our borders. I am very pro immigration. As a tax paying, law abiding citizen I am disgusted with granting amnesty to five million illegal people our current administration just did. These people came here breaking every law on the book I would be imprisoned for. These people are not immigrants! They come here, pay no taxes, get FREE healthcare, FREE food and on it goes. We have been fed the bill of good that they do jobs we wont. I’d work jobs and take lower pay too if I lived here for free AND made a tax free wage. This is a slap in the face to the “legal” immigrants. If you cross the Mexican border the same way they are allowed here the Mexican government would jail you. Illegals are not immigrants. Immigrants are productive humans that enhance human life.

    How to Immigrate to the US if You Don’t Know Anyone in the US
    October 17, 2011
    If you are an immigrant and wish to immigrate to the United States, you may already be aware that there are many laws and restrictions concerning immigration to the United States. If you are related to a US citizen or green card holder, it is much easier to immigrate, since the US government makes provisions for families of US citizens and permanent residents to sponsor family members. However, even if you are a would-be immigrant who knows no one in the United States and has no family in the United States, there are many immigrant resources and programs that can help you immigrate legally to the United States.

    One of the most popular ways to immigrate to the United States is through employer sponsorship. If you find a job in the United States and if your US employer is willing to sponsor you for a green card, you may be able to immigrate to the United States. Your U.S. employers will need to file Form I-140 (Petition for Alien Worker) on your behalf. In general, this route is easier if you have specialization or a college degree. However, there are also some non-skill categories of workers that can qualify for immigration to the United States through employment sponsorship. If your employer is willing to sponsor you and if you have a job offer in the United States, you may even be able to live and work in the United States on an H1-B visa while your green card application is pending. There are immigration resources that can help you find jobs in the US which are designated for people who do not yet have green card status.

    If you have substantial assets but know no one in the United States, you can also become an immigrant investor and immigrate to the United States. In general, you will need to invest at least $1 million in the United States in order to get a green card. You must invest this money in a US-based enterprise that creates at least 10 US jobs. Additional restrictions may apply, but if you have the assets this can be a good way to immigrate to the United States legally and eventually even become a US citizen.

    Scientists working on special projects outside of the US may also sometimes be able to secure green cards and even US citizenship very quickly. If the US government finds your work essential to national interest or very important for the US, you may be granted a green card or even US citizenship very quickly.

    If you come from a country where many people do not immigrate to the United States, you may also qualify to get a green card through the green card diversity lottery program. The green card lottery is intended to help diversify the immigrant population in the United States. The lottery is held every year and allows people from specific countries to apply. If your country is listed as among those eligible for this year’s lottery, you can apply. If you win the lottery, you will get a green card to come and live permanently in the United States.