A new report from New American Economy shows that immigrants in the Portland, ME metro area contributed $1.2 billion to the area’s GDP in 2016 and paid $133 million in federal taxes and $62 million in state and local taxes. The report, New Americans in Portland, ME, was developed in partnership with the Portland Office of Economic Opportunity and the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce.
In addition to their financial contributions, the new report outlines the important role immigrants and refugees play in the Portland labor force and as drivers of population growth. In the City of Portland and the surrounding area, the foreign-born population accounted for more than 75 percent of population growth from 2011 to 2016. And in the metro area, though they make up just 4.6 percent of the population, immigrants account for 5.1 percent of the working-age population and 6 percent of all workers in Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) fields, industries where Maine is facing significant labor shortages. In fact, there are 11 open STEM positions for every one unemployed STEM worker. The report also shows that immigrants in the Portland metro area fill key jobs on across the skills spectrum, from teachers to housekeepers.
The brief, New Americans in Portland, ME, finds:
- Immigrants contributed $1.2 billion to the Portland metro area’s GDP in 2016. Immigrant households earned $678.7 million in income in 2016 and held $521.3 million in spending power.
- Given their income, immigrants contributed significantly to federal, state, and local taxes. Immigrants paid $133 million in federal taxes and $62 million in state and local taxes in 2016.
- Immigrants were responsible for 75.2 percent of population growth in the City of Portland and surrounding cities between 2011 and 2016. Over those five years, the total population increased by 1.5 percent, while the immigrant population increased by 12.2 percent.
- Despite making up just 4.6 percent of the overall population in the metro area, immigrants played an outsize role in the labor force in 2016. Foreign-born workers represented 5.1 percent of the working-age population and 6 percent of all workers in Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) fields in the Portland metro area.
- Immigrants in the Portland metro area were more likely than their U.S.-born counterparts to have a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2016. 8 percent of immigrants had a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2016, compared to 30 percent of the U.S.-born. And 12.8 percent of immigrants had an advanced degree—the same share as the U.S.-born.
- Immigrants play an outsize role in several key industries in the area. Though they are 4.6 percent of the population, foreign-born workers made up 6.5 percent of all workers in the manufacturing industry and 5.4 percent of workers in the healthcare industry.
- More than half—55.6 percent— of immigrants and refugees in the Portland metro area were naturalized citizens in 2016.
Portland 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.