A new report from New American Economy and the Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition finds that from 2014 to 2017, the immigrant population in the Great Lakes Region has been a driving force behind the region’s economic growth. Driving Growth: The Economic Impact of Immigrants in the Great Lake Region, 2014 to 2017 highlights how immigrant contributions have bolstered the region’s economy. This report builds on a seminal report released in 2017, New Americans and a New Direction: The Role of Immigrants in Reviving the Great Lakes Region which explores the critical role immigrants played in reviving the region between 2000 and 2015.
The report, Driving Growth, finds:
- All population growth in the region from 2014 – 2017 was due to growth in the immigrant population. Despite a more than 67,000 decline in the U.S.-born population in the Great Lakes, the region’s immigrant population grew by more than 335,000, leading to an overall growth of more than 267,000 between 2014 and 2017. In Ohio alone immigrants accounted for over 70 percent of the state’s overall population growth.
- Immigrants are keeping the region’s workforce viable. New immigrant residents are helping offset declines in the number of U.S.-born workers who are either moving away or retiring out of the labor market. Between 2014 and 2017, the Great Lakes Region gained almost 167,000 working-age immigrants and lost almost 617,000 U.S.-born people of working age. Indiana’s working-age population would have shrunk by 26,020 had it not been for the increase in the immigrant workforce.
- Immigrants are increasingly more likely to have a college degree. As of 2017, one in three immigrants in the region had a bachelor’s degree or higher. From 2014 to 2017, the share of immigrants with at least a bachelor’s degree increased by 1.7 percentage points. In Wisconsin, the share of immigrants with at least a bachelor’s degree was as high as 35.1 percent in 2017 – a more than 5 percent increase, from 29.9 percent in 2014.
- Immigrants’ spending power has helped sustain regional business. In 2017 immigrants in the Great Lakes Region held close to $232.6 billion in spending power, a 14.8 percent increase since 2014. In Michigan alone, immigrant spending power increased by almost 22 percent. Robust consumer spending by immigrants injects money into the local economy that helps strengthen the region’s housing market and local businesses.