Immigrants Create Nearly a Quarter of New York State’s Economic Output

Immigrants contributed $229 billion, or 22.4 percent, of New York State’s gross domestic product, in 2006, a new report from the Fiscal Policy Institute finds.

The report, Working for a Better Life: A Profile of Immigrants in the New York State Economy, looks at immigrants’ economic contribution in New York City, downstate suburbs, upstate New York, and the state as a whole. Among other things, it found that foreign-born New Yorkers comprise 21 percent the state’s population — 37 percent in New York City, 18 percent in the downstate suburbs, and 5 percent upstate in 2005 — and that their contribution to the state’s economy is roughly the same as their share of the population.

The study also found that New York immigrants participate in jobs across the entire economic spectrum, that immigrant low-wage workers are subject to the same challenges as U.S.-born low-wage workers, and that the number of Hispanic- and Asian-owned businesses — a rough indication of immigrant entrepreneurship — is growing rapidly. In addition, two-thirds of immigrants upstate and in downstate suburbs own their own homes, while 24 percent of New York children have at least one foreign-born adult in their family.

“This report clearly proves that immigrants fuel growth and vitality in every economic sector and every geographic area in New York,” said New York Immigration Coalition executive director Chung-Wha Hong. “[W]e need to change our immigration laws so that undocumented immigrants can come out of the shadows of the underground economy and future immigrant workers can immigrate legally to fill jobs that our economy requires.”

From the Fiscal Policy Institute Press Release 26 November 2007.

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