New research from New American Economy shows that immigrant households in Marion County, Indiana earned over $1.9 billion in 2016 and contributed $495.8 million to federal taxes and $172 million to state and local taxes, including property, sales, and excise taxes levied by state and local governments. Marion County is the largest county in Indiana and City of Indianapolis is the county seat.
In addition to their financial contributions, our research shows the role the immigrant population in Marion County plays in the local labor force and bolstering population growth. One in 10 immigrants are entrepreneurs, and foreign-born individuals are almost twice as likely than their U.S.-born counterparts to start a business. Between 2011 and 2016, the population in the county grew by 3.1, while the foreign-born population increased by 19.7 percent. That means that growth in the foreign-born population accounted for over half of overall population growth in the county during that period.
Our research details the significant impact the immigrant population in Marion County has on growth, spending power and tax contributions, labor force growth, entrepreneurship, housing wealth, naturalization, and more. Explore more findings from our research below.
Key findings include:
- Immigrant households in Marion County earned $1.9 billion in 2016. Of that, foreign-born households contributed $495.8 million in federal taxes and $172 million in state and local taxes. They were left with $1.2 billion in spending power.
- Between 2011 and 2016, the population of Marion County grew by 3.1 percent. The immigrant population grew by 19.7 percent, meaning that growth in the foreign-born population accounted for 52.1 percent of overall population growth during that period.
- Immigrants account for 19.7 percent of the county’s entrepreneurs. Despite making up just 9.5 percent of the county’s overall population, immigrants represented 19.7 percent of entrepreneurs in Marion County in 2016.
- Immigrants represented 12.1 percent of the area’s working age population. Foreign-born individuals represented 12.1 percent of the working-age population, 11.5 percent of its employed labor force, and 9.5 percent of its STEM workers.
- Nearly one-third of immigrants and refugees in the county—or over 25,000 individuals— were naturalized citizens in 2016. 20 percent of the non-citizen population were likely eligible to naturalize.
The new data on Marion County complements previously research published by NAE and the Immigrant Welcome Center focusing on New Americans in Indianapolis. The brief was produced as part of the Gateways for Growth Challenge, a competitive opportunity from New American Economy and Welcoming America. The Immigrant Welcome Center also published its strategic plan for the city, “Indianapolis Immigrant Integration Plan: Becoming a Welcoming City to All Residents.”
Read the complete research findings on Marion County below.
- In 2016, 89,208 immigrants lived in Marion County, Indiana, making up 9.5 percent of the overall population.
- Between 2011 and 2016, the population in the county grew 3.1 percent, from 911,330 to 939,510. The foreign-born population increased by 19.7 percent, from 74,519 to 89,208.
- Growth in the foreign-born population accounted for 52.1 percent of overall population growth during that period.
- Top three countries of origin for immigrants living in the county:
- Mexico: 31.3 percent
- Myanmar: 11.3 percent
- India: 7.1 percent
Spending Power and Tax Contributions
- The foreign-born population in the county holds considerable economic power. In 2016, immigrant households held $1.9 billion in total income and $1.2 billion in spending power.
- Given their income, we estimate that in 2016, the foreign-born households contributed $495.8 million in federal taxes, and $172 million in state and local taxes, including property, sales, and excise taxes.
- Foreign-born residents also support federal social programs. In 2016, immigrants in Marion County contributed $203.7 million to Social Security and $53.1 million to Medicare.
- In 2016, 28.3 percent of the immigrants in the county received Medicare or Medicaid, compared with 37.2 percent of the U.S.-born residents. About 47.5 percent of the immigrants had private healthcare coverage, while 29.1 percent had public healthcare coverage.
Labor Force Growth
- Although the foreign-born made up 9.5 percent of the county’s overall population, they represented 12.1 percent of its working-age population, 11.5 percent of its employed labor force, and 9.5 percent of its STEM workers in 2016.
- Because of the role immigrants play in the workforce helping companies keep jobs on U.S. soil, we estimate that, by 2016, immigrants living in the county had helped create or preserve 4,104 local manufacturing jobs that would have otherwise vanished or moved elsewhere.
- Despite making up 9.5 percent of the overall population, immigrants represented 19.7 percent of the entrepreneurs in Marion County in 2016.
- In the county, immigrants were almost twice as likely to be entrepreneurs as their U.S.-born counterparts. While 5.8 percent of the U.S.-born population were self-employed, 10.9 percent of the foreign-born residents worked for their own businesses.
Educational and Long-Term Economic Impacts
- In 2016, 26.5 percent of the immigrants ages 25 and up held at least a bachelor’s degree, compared with 31.4 percent of the U.S.-born population in Marion County. About 10 percent of the immigrants held an advanced degree, compared with 10.3 percent of the U.S.-born population in the county.
- 11.9 percent of the students under age 18 who attended public schools in the county in 2016 were English language learners (ELL). This constitutes 17,465 students.
- In 2016, 28.7 percent of immigrant households owned their homes in Marion County, compared with 53.5 percent of U.S.-born households. The total property value of immigrant households was $1.6 billion.
- About 70.1 percent of immigrant households were renters in 2016. Their total annual rent was $206.9 million.
- In 2016, 46.6 percent of immigrant households lived in houses, while 51.5 percent lived in apartments.
- In 2016, 25,614 immigrants, or 28.7 percent of the foreign-born population in the county, were naturalized citizens.
- Among the 63,594 people who were not citizens, 20 percent, or 12,743 immigrants, were potentially eligible for naturalization.
- In 2016, 14.2 percent of the immigrant population in the county were likely refugees.
- In 2016, 30,834 undocumented immigrants lived in the county, making up 34.6 percent of the immigrant population.
- Top three countries of origin for undocumented immigrants in the county:
- Mexico: 47.4 percent
- Honduras: 7.9 percent
- El Salvador: 6.7 percent
 Estimates are based on federal tax rates from the U.S. Congressional Budget Office, and state and local tax rates from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.
 U.S. Congressional Budget Office. 2016. “The Distribution of Household Income and Federal Taxes, 2013.”
 Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. 2015. “Who Pays? A Distributional Analysis of the Tax Systems in All Fifty States.”
 Vigdor, Jacob. 2013. “Immigration and the Revival of American Cities: From Preserving Manufacturing Jobs to Strengthening the Housing Market.” New American Economy.
 Indiana Department of Education. The number and percent of public school students who are identified as having limited English proficiency because their primary language is not English. Totals for counties include charters except for the virtual and adult schools.
 New American Economy. 2017. “From Struggle to Resilience: The Economic Impact of Refugees in America”