Immigrant households contributed more than $4 billion to GDP in the Memphis metro area in 2015, and held $1.1 billion in spending power in 2015, according to a new research brief released by New American Economy. In addition to their significant financial contributions, the report shows the critical role the relatively small foreign-born population plays in the Memphis workforce. Immigrants make up a significant portion of several of the area’s most important industries, despite making up just 5.2 percent of the total population. This includes 14.4 percent of all science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) workers and nearly a quarter of all construction workers.
The brief, New Americans in Memphis, finds:
- Immigrants contributed $4.2 billion to the Memphis metro area’s GDP in 2015.
- Immigrant households earned $1.6 billion in 2015. Of that, foreign-born households contributed $372.1 million in federal taxes and $109.7 million in state and local taxes. They were left with $1.1 billion in spending power.
- Immigrant households support federal social programs. The foreign-born contributed $191 million to Social Security and $46.9 million to Medicare.
- Immigrants in Memphis are more likely to be entrepreneurs. While just over 5 percent of the population, immigrants make up nearly 9 percent of the metro area’s business owners. They are 26.7 percent more likely to be entrepreneurs than people born in the United States.
- Immigrants account for more than 15 percent of the metro area’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) workers.Despite making up just 5.2 percent of the overall population, immigrants represented 14.4 percent of the metro area’s STEM workforce. They also represented nearly a quarter—24.5 percent—of construction workers in Memphis in 2015.
- Immigrants helped to preserve 3,210 local manufacturing jobs in 2015. Because of the role immigrants play in the workforce helping companies keep jobs local, by 2015 immigrants living in Memphis had helped create or preserve more than 3,210 manufacturing jobs that would have otherwise vanished or moved elsewhere.
- The undocumented population in Memphis contributed $61.5 million in taxes and held nearly $353.2 million in spending power. In 2015, undocumented immigrant households earned a total of $414.8 million.
Read the full research brief here.