New research from New American Economy (NAE) released today in partnership with the City of San José highlights how immigrants are both essential to San José’s rapid response efforts and especially vulnerable due to gaps in federal relief packages, language access barriers, and increased risks of infection associated with frontline and essential work.
Key findings from the report include:
- Immigrants make significant economic contributions to the economy. In 2018, immigrants in San José paid $12.9 billion in federal taxes and $5.3 billion in state and local taxes, leaving them with $35.7 billion in spending power.
- Immigrants serve in essential industries and carry out vital roles that keep San José functioning but put them at higher risk of infection. Despite making up 38.5 percent of the metro area’s residents in 2018, immigrants make outsize contributions to several essential industries, making up over 68 percent of all agriculture workers, over 62 percent of all food processing workers, nearly 50 percent of all restaurant and food services, and 43.5 percent of healthcare workers in San José.
- Immigrants play an important role in San José as job creators but are concentrated in industries that are especially vulnerable to the economic recession caused by COVID-19. Immigrants make up over 67 percent of business owners in hospitality and 58.3 percent of business owners in general services, which includes personal services like laundry, barber, and repair shops .
- Culturally sensitive and language accessible emergency materials are in demand. In 2018, over 21 percent of immigrants, or 164,862, living in San José had limited English language proficiency. Among them, the top five languages spoken at home other than English were: Spanish (43.4 percent), Vietnamese (22.6 percent), Chinese (17.6 percent), Filipino, Tagalog (3.0 percent) and Hindi and related (3.0 percent).
Read the full press release here.
San José is one of twelve recipients of NAE research to inform culturally sensitive emergency response measures that ensure all residents are included, regardless of immigration status. This customized research report highlights the demographic nuances of the metro area’s immigrant population and will inform the advocacy, development, and implementation of inclusive local emergency responses.