New research from New American Economy (NAE) released today in partnership with Louisville’s Office for Globalization highlights how immigrants are both essential to Louisville’s rapid 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.
Key findings from this report include:
- Immigrants make significant economic contributions to the economy. In 2018, immigrants in the Louisville metro area paid $465.8 million in federal taxes and $236.2 million in state and local taxes, leaving them with $1.8 billion in spending power.
- Immigrants serve in essential industries and carry out vital roles that keep Louisville functioning but put them at higher risk of infection. Despite making up just 5.7 percent of the metro area’s residents in 2018, immigrants comprise 25.5 percent of all Food Processing workers and 9.1 percent of all Restaurant and Food Services workers in Louisville.
- Immigrants play an important role in Louisville as job creators but are concentrated in industries that are especially vulnerable to the economic recession caused by COVID-19. Immigrants make up 12.3 percent of business owners in Construction and 11.8 percent of business owners in General Services, including personal services like laundry, barber, and repair shops.
- Culturally sensitive and language accessible emergency materials are in demand. In 2018, 23.5 percent of immigrants, or 16,773, living in Louisville had limited English language proficiency. Among them, the top four languages spoken at home other than English were: Spanish (59.7 percent), Dravidian (6.0 percent), Vietnamese (5.5 percent), and Chinese (2.8 percent).
Louisville 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. Louisville’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.