Rockefeller report: Immigrants help state economy

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 72 views 

A study released by the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation suggests that immigrants have a positive contribution to Arkansas’ economy, but an estimated 42% do not have legal documentation.

Report findings include information from the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) analysis of data from the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) for 2010, which was the most recent year available at the time of the report’s writing. The ACS also provided trend analysis going back to the 1990 and 2000 censuses. Information was also pulled from the Arkansas Department of Education and the Arkansas Department of Health.

The report was produced by researchers from the Migration Policy Institute, the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the University of Arkansas. It s a follow-up to a similar study in 2007.

“The Foundation’s primary goal with this study is to provide relevant data to help community, business, and policy leaders better understand the population of immigrants and Marshall Islanders in Arkansas,” said Dr. Sherece West-Scantlebury, Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation president and CEO.

The largest portion– 44% – of Arkansas’ immigration population as of 2010 lived in the three Benton, Sebastian and Washington counties. Pulaski County was home to 17% of the immigrant population in 2010.

According to the report, the economic impact of immigrants in 2010 was $3.9 billion, well ahead of the $2.9 billion reported in 2004.

“The economic impact was heavily concentrated in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and Northwest Arkansas (Benton,Washington, and Sebastian counties), but six other counties (Saline, Faulkner, Garland, Craighead, Lonoke, and Pope) also had immi- grant populations with at least $65 million in consumer buying power,” noted the report.

The report also suggests immigrants are not a drain on government services and spending. When subtracting the cost of “essential services” provided to immigrant families from the economic contribution of said families, the net benefit to Arkansas’ economy is $3.4 billion, according to the report.

“On a per capita basis, immigrants’ contributions ($16,300) exceeded the fiscal cost of essential services ($2,300) by $13,900. That is, immigrants generated $7 in business revenue and tax contributions for every $1 the state spent on services to immigrant households — K–12 education, health-care, and corrections — in 2010,” according to the report’s summary.

Other report findings include:
• Arkansas’s share of immigrants (approximately 5% of the state’s population) is much smaller than the national average of 13%.

• Children of immigrants were 10% of Arkansas children in 2010, versus 5% in 2000. Their share will continue to grow rapidly due to immigration and the relatively low birth rates among the US-born population, particularly white natives.

• Arkansas immigrants had an estimated total after-tax income of $4.3 billion in 2010 (compared to the Arkansas total of $96 billion in personal income and $103 billion state gross domestic product). Approximately 16% of this after-tax income was sent home to families abroad, saved, or used for interest payments.

• Arkansas ranked fourth among the states in immigrant population growth from 2000 to 2010, with the foreign-born population increasing by 82%.

• Immigrants from all origins comprised 13% of manufacturing workers in the 2008 to 2010 period, with about half of immigrants employed in poultry and other animal-processing jobs.

• Construction experienced the most dramatic increase in employment from 2000 through 2008–10, with the foreign-born share of workers rising from 2% to 16%.

• The length of settlement for Arkansas immigrants is expanding: in 2010, 57% had lived in Arkansas (or elsewhere in the U.S.) for 10 years or more, compared with 51% in 2000.

• Half of Latino immigrants and two-thirds of non-Latino immigrants owned their own homes.

• The Latino immigrant share of workers doubled from 2% to 4% between 2000 and 2010. Immigrant Latino men have the highest employment rate of any immigrant or native-born group: 88%.

• Arkansas has the second-largest Marshallese population outside the Republic of Marshall Islands, after the state of Hawaii. Most of the Marshallese in the state live in Northwest Arkansas.

• The largest employer of the Marshallese community in Springdale is the poultry industry, with about three-quarters employed by Tyson Foods, George’s, and Butterball.

• Under the Compact of Free Association between the U.S. and Marshallese govern- ments, Marshall Islanders can travel and work in the United States without visas.

Link here for access to the various documents within the report.

Link here for the 2007 study.

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