Report: Immigrants contributed $4.2B to Memphis in 2015

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The first-ever report that shows the economic contributions of immigrants in Memphis has been released.

The report released by Latino Memphis shows immigrants contributed $4.2 billion to Memphis in 2015.

It also shows that immigrants account for more than 14 percent of the area's STEM workers, something Mayor Jim Strickland says is a huge contribution to the city.

"The immigrant community is filling jobs that other people aren't willing to step up and take; it's a huge financial contribution," Strickland said.

"Sometimes we hear people talking without facts saying they're taking our jobs away, immigrants are a liability. But, look the numbers aren't saying that," Latino Memphis Executive Director Mauricio Calvo said.

The report by New American Economy found the following:

  • Immigrants contributed $4.2 billion to the Memphis metro area’s GDP in 2015
  • Immigrant households earned $1.6 billion in 2015. Of that, immigrant households contributed $372.1 million in federal taxes and $109.7 million in state and local taxes, leaving them with $1.1 billion in spending power.
  • Immigrant households support federal social programs. The foreign-born contributed $191 million to Social Security and $46.9 million to Medicare.
  • Immigrants in Memphis are more likely to be entrepreneurs. While just over 5 percent of the population, immigrants make up nearly 9 percent of the metro area’s business owners. They are 26.7 percent more likely to be entrepreneurs than people born in the United States.
  • Immigrants account for more than 14 percent of the metro area’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) workers. Despite making up just 5.2 percent of the overall population, immigrants represented 14.4 percent of the metro area’s STEM workforce. They also represented nearly a quarter—24.5 percent—of construction workers in Memphis in 2015.
  • Immigrants helped to preserve 3,210 local manufacturing jobs in 2015. Because of the role immigrants play in the workforce helping companies keep jobs local, by 2015 immigrants living in Memphis had helped create or preserve more than 3,210 manufacturing jobs that would have otherwise vanished or moved elsewhere.
  • Immigrant households own homes. 51.3 percent of immigrant households are homeowners making their property value $2.4 billion.
  • The undocumented population in Memphis contributed $61.5 million in taxes and held nearly $353.2 million in spending power. In 2015, undocumented immigrant households earned a total of $414.8 million.

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