New Americans in San Diego

Immigrants contributed over $54 billion—25 percent—to the San Diego metro area GDP in 2016, according to a new research brief released by New American Economy in partnership with the City of San Diego, the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, and the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation. The report was published at the Welcoming San Diego Kickoff Summit, a convening launching a multi-sector effort to advance the civic, social and economic integration of immigrants and refugees in San Diego.

In addition to their financial contributions, the report shows the critical role the foreign-born population plays in San Diego’s workforce. Immigrants make up a significant portion of several of the area’s most important industries, including science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), agriculture, manufacturing, and construction. Immigrants also account for nearly one-third of all entrepreneurs in the county. The more than 64,000 immigrant entrepreneurs in San Diego generated $1.4 billion in business income in 2016.

The brief, New Americans in San Diego, finds:

  • Foreign-born residents contributed $54.3 billion to the county’s GDP in 2016. Immigrant households also support federal social programs, contributing $2.4 billion to Social Security and $650.7 million to Medicare.
  • Immigrant households earned $25.9 billion in 2016. Foreign-born households also contributed $7.5 billion in federal taxes and $2.1 billion in state and local taxes, including property, sales, and excise taxes.
  • About 64,299 foreign-born people own their own business, generating $1.4 billion in business income. Despite making up 24.1 percent of the overall population, immigrants represented 32.7 percent of entrepreneurs in San Diego County in 2016.
  • Foreign-born workers represented 31.5 percent of the metro area’s STEM workers in 2016. Immigrants also make up 61.6 percent of the workers in agriculture, 39.6 percent of workers in manufacturing, and 33 percent of the area’s construction workers.
  • Immigrants helped to preserve 36,770 local manufacturing jobs in 2016. Because of the role immigrants play in the workforce helping companies keep jobs local, by 2016 immigrants living in the county had helped create or preserve more than 36,000 manufacturing jobs that would have otherwise vanished or moved elsewhere.

Read the full report here.

About Us

New American Economy is a bipartisan research and advocacy organization fighting for smart federal, state, and local immigration policies that help grow our economy and create jobs for all Americans. More…