The Contributions of New Americans in Iowa

While only 5 percent of Iowa’s population is foreign-born today, the state is one of several across the country that in recent years have become increasingly attractive to immigrants. While less than 2 percent of Iowa’s population was foreign-born in 1990, that figure had more than doubled—reaching 4.6 percent—by 2010. In more recent years, such patterns have only continued. Between 2010 and 2014, Iowa’s foreign-born population grew by more than 9 percent, a figure well above the percentage increase in the number of immigrants living in the United States more broadly. This helped Iowa stave off the sort of sluggish population growth that has hurt so many other areas in recent decades, depriving communities of needed workers and taxpayers. The native-born population of Iowa grew by just 1.5 percent during this period. Today, Iowa is home to more than 150,000 immigrants—a population larger than the city of Cedar Rapids in this state. These largely working-age immigrants serve as everything from meatpacking workers to college professors, making them critical contributors to Iowa’s economic success overall.

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