Reports: Immigration Benefits Rural U.S., and Immigrants’ Tax and Spending Power

Two recent reports highlight specific impacts of immigration in the U.S.

Revival and Opportunity: Immigrants in Rural America is a September 2018 report examining how immigrants have helped stave off or reduce population decline in rural areas,  and have revitalized communities that were experiencing the detrimental effects of population loss.  It also looks at the challenges of integrating newcomers into insular communities.  Citing to several towns as examples,  it notes how proactive responses from policy makers and community members can facilitate integration, benefiting new immigrants and long term native residents alike.

Another September 2018 report, Immigrants as Economic Contributors:  Immigrant Tax Contributions and Spending Power outlines the enormous positive fiscal impact of U.S. immigrants, including the undocumented and refugees.  The report finds that in 2014, immigrants paid over $328 billion in federal, state and local taxes, and  their after-tax spending power was $927 billion.  Immigrants who arrived between 2011 and 2015 had higher levels of education than earlier immigrants, with over half having a bachelor’s degree, and are expected to earn higher incomes and contribute even more in taxes and consumption over their working lifetimes than their predecessors.

This report also looks at the contributions of undocumented immigrants, finding that they paid $11.7 billion in state and local taxes, and would pay an estimated $2.2 billion more if Congress created a pathway for them to apply for permanent residency.  Conversely, if the undocumented were no longer part of the economy, the resultant labor shortages would cause private sector economic output to shrink by as much as an estimated $623 billion.

Finally, the report also analyzes refugees’ economic impact.  Unlike immigrants, refugees get short-term government aid when they first arrive in the U.S. to help them restart their lives after having to leave everything behind.   The report cites to various studies, including a federal report that the current administration chose not to officially release,  finding that refugees contribute more in tax revenues than they receive in benefits and services, and produce a net gain for the country’s coffers.  Refugees also have spending power, estimated at $56 billion in 2015.

Taken together, the two reports recognize that while there can be challenges to absorbing new immigrants, overall, the country benefits greatly.  These reports join a growing body of literature and data that overwhelmingly reaches similar conclusions.