New Americans in Missoula

New research from New American Economy shows that immigrants in the Missoula region contributed $219.9 million to the region’s GDP in 2016 and paid $19.3 million in federal taxes and $7 million in state and local taxes. The report, New Americans in Missoula, was released in partnership with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Missoula and the City of Missoula Office of Housing and Community Development.

In addition to their financial contributions, the new report shows the role the immigrant population in the Missoula region plays in the local labor force. Though they are 2.3 percent of the region’s population, immigrants punch above their weight, representing 3.3 percent of workers in Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) fields and 4.1 percent of all entrepreneurs. The report also shows that 52.5 percent of immigrants in the Missoula region held a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to only 32 percent of the U.S.-born population.

The report also features profiles of three Missoula-area immigrants: Eduardo Capulong, Mirtha Becerra, and Helena Mayor Wilmot CollinsNew Americans in Missoula also finds:

  • Immigrants contributed $219.9 million to Missoula’s GDP in 2016. Immigrant households earned $119.9 million in income in 2016. Of that, $19.3 million went to federal taxes and $7 million went to state and local taxes, leaving them with $93.6 million in spending power.
  • Despite making up just 2.3 percent of the overall population, immigrants played an outsize role in the employed labor force in 2016. Foreign-born workers represented 2.6 percent of Missoula’s working-age population and 2.8 percent of its employed labor force that year.
  • Immigrants in the Missoula region were much more likely than their U.S.-born counterparts to have a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2016. 2 percent of immigrants had a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2016, compared to 32 percent of the U.S.-born. And 22.9 percent of immigrants had an advanced degree, compared to 10.9 percent of the U.S.-born.
  • Immigrants are overrepresented as entrepreneurs in the region. Despite making up only 2.3 percent of the populations, immigrants accounted for 4.1 percent of all entrepreneurs in the region in 2016.
  • Immigrants play a critical role in several key industries in the region, including STEM fields. Foreign-born workers made up 5.5 percent of all workers in hospitality and recreation and 4.1 percent of workers in the professional services industry. They also made up 3.3 percent of STEM workers, higher than their share of the population.
  • Over half of immigrants and refugees in the region—or nearly 3,000 individuals—were naturalized citizens in 2016.

Read the full research brief here.

Missoula is one of 44 communities selected for the Gateways for Growth Challenge, a competitive opportunity from New American Economy and Welcoming America where local communities receive tailored research on the contributions of immigrants, direct technical assistance to develop multi-sector plans for welcoming and integrating immigrants, or matching grants.

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