New research from New American Economy (NAE) released today in partnership with the City of Detroit, Detroit Regional Chamber, Global Detroit, Oakland County, Wayne County, and Macomb County highlights how immigrants are both essential to the region’s COVID response efforts and especially vulnerable, due to gaps in our federal relief package, language access barriers, and increased risks of infection associated with frontline and essential work. The research also underscores how important immigrant inclusion will be to the region’s economic recovery.
Key findings from the report include:
- Immigrants make significant economic contributions to the economy. In 2018, immigrants paid $3.3 billion in federal taxes and $1.4 billion in state and local taxes, leaving them with $12.3 billion in spending power.
- Immigrants serve in essential industries and carry out vital roles that keep the Detroit metro area functioning but put them at higher risk of infection. Immigrants comprise more than 11.7 percent of all Healthcare workers (28,229 immigrant workers), 16.9 percent of all Pharmacy workers (2,216 immigrant workers), 13.5 percent of all Grocery workers (4,285 immigrant workers), and 13.2 percent of all Restaurant and Food Service workers (17,995 immigrant workers).
- Immigrants play an important role in Detroit as job creators but are concentrated in industries that are especially vulnerable to the economic recession caused by COVID-19. Despite making up just 9.9 percent of Detroit metro area’s residents in 2018, immigrants make up 37.5 percent of business owners in Hospitality, 19.1 percent of business owners in Retail Trade, 19.2 percent of business owners in General Services, 23.5 percent of business owners in Healthcare, and 1o.8 percent of business owners in Construction.
- Culturally sensitive and language accessible emergency materials are in demand. In 2018, over 17 percent of immigrants, or 73,264, living in the Detroit metro area had limited English language proficiency. Among them, the top five languages spoken at home other than English were: Arabic (29.9 percent), Spanish (22.7 percent), Hindi and Related (10.8 percent), Chinese (5.8 percent) and Albanian (3.3 percent).
Detroit is one of twelve communities that received NAE research to inform culturally sensitive emergency response measures that ensure all residents are included, regardless of immigration status. Detroit’s customized research report highlights the demographic nuances of the metro area’s immigrant population and will inform the advocacy, development, and implementation of inclusive local emergency responses.