New Americans in Southwest Iowa and Omaha-Council Bluffs

In January 2022, NAE merged with the American Immigration Council to combine a broad suite of advocacy tools to better expand and protect the rights of immigrants, more fully ensure immigrants’ ability to succeed economically, and help make the communities they settle in more welcoming.

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Read the report: New Americans in Southwest Iowa
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Read the report: New Americans in Omaha-Council Bluffs
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New research from the New American Economy shows that immigrants contributed $5.1 billion to the GDP of the Omaha-Council Bluffs metropolitan area in 2019. The two new reports, New Americans in Omaha-Council Bluffs and New Americans in Southwest Iowa, were prepared in partnership with the Council Bluffs Area Chamber of Commerce.  

In addition to their financial contributions in Omaha-Council Bluffs, which included paying over $301 million in federal taxes and $182 million in state and local taxes in 2019, the reports highlight how immigrants fill crucial workforce gaps. Although foreign-born residents made up 8 percent of the Omaha-Council Bluffs’ overall population in 2019, they represented 10.6 percent of its working-age population. Additionally, immigrants had an outside impact on key industries vital to the economic stability of the Omaha-Council Bluffs region. In 2019, immigrants accounted for 22.1 percent of manufacturing workers, 15.9 percent of construction workers, and 12.2 percent of hospitality workers. Between 2014 and 2019, Southwest Iowa’s population shrunk by 1.1 percent, while the immigrant population grew by 7.4 percent. Without growth in the immigrant population, the region’s total population would have decreased even more, by 1.3 percent.

Key Findings

  • Immigrants are bringing much-needed talent. In 2019, 27.4 percent of immigrants in Omaha-Council Bluffs aged 25 and older held at least a bachelor’s degree and 11.3 percent held an advanced degree (either a master’s professional or doctoral degree). 
  • Immigrants are filling critical workforce gaps. Although foreign-born residents made up 2.9 percent of Southwest Iowa’s overall population, they represented 3.9 percent of its employed labor force in 2019. 
  • Immigrants play a significant role in the area’s entrepreneurs. Despite making up 8 percent of the overall population in Omaha-Council Bluffs, immigrants represented 9.1 percent of the entrepreneurs in 2019 and generated $79.9 million in business income.
  • Immigrants help create or preserve local manufacturing jobs. In Omaha-Council Bluffs, immigrants strengthened the local job market by allowing companies to keep jobs on U.S. soil, helping preserve or create 3,400 local manufacturing jobs that would have otherwise vanished or moved elsewhere by 2019.

Read the full press release 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…