New Americans crucial to Minnesota’s economy

New Americans are making up a growing share of Minnesota’s population, and research from the Immigration Policy Center shows that they play an important role in the state’s economy.

Over the past 20 years, Minnesota’s foreign-born population has risen from 2.6 percent to 7.3 percent, bringing the immigrant population to almost 390,000 as of 2011. Many of these immigrants are Latino or Asian, who now make up one in 11 Minnesotans. These new Americans pay taxes, create businesses and enhance the state’s workforce.

Regardless of status, new Minnesotans play a key role in the state’s economy. In 2010, unauthorized immigrants in the state (who make up less than 2 percent of the state’s population) paid almost $82 million in state and local taxes. Furthermore, if they were not in the state, Minnesota would lose $4.4 billion in economic activity and more than 24,000 jobs.

New Minnesotans are creating new jobs and adding hundreds of millions of dollars to the state economy. In 2011, immigrants composed almost 9 percent of Minnesota’s workforce. Asian- and Latino-owned businesses alone had sales and receipts of $4 billion and employed almost 23,000 people in 2007. The presence of new Minnesotans enhances local economic activity. For example, in the Minneapolis metro area, immigrants were responsible for 8 percent of the total economic output in 2007.

New Minnesotans will continue to bring even more economic success to the state. The report shows that one out of three of naturalized citizens in Minnesota has a bachelor’s degree or higher, and only one out of five lacks a high school diploma. And the trend is in the direction of more education, with the number of immigrants with a college degree increasing by 80 percent between 2000 and 2011.

There is a great deal of public discussion about Minnesota’s future economic success, with plenty of focus on creating jobs and educating workers. Fortunately, these numbers show that Minnesota’s immigrant population is already playing a critical role our state’s economy – and that will only continue to grow.

-Caitlin Biegler

About Caitlin Biegler

Caitlin Biegler is the Minnesota Budget Project’s policy analyst. She researches and writes about state tax and budget issues. Caitlin holds a Master of Public Policy degree from George Washington University in Washington, DC; and a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Health from Tulane University in New Orleans, LA. She interned at the DC Fiscal Policy Institute in Washington, DC, Third Way in Washington, DC, Lutheran Social Services, and the Alabama State Office of Primary Care and Rural Health.
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