New Report Details California Immigrant Contributions

January 29, 2010

State-Wide and Regional Data Show High Rates of Entrepreneurship, Significant Contributions to Local GDP, and Large Potential Voter Populations

   The California Immigrant Policy Center released a new report detailing California immigrants’ contributions to the state. “Looking Forward: Immigrant Contributions to the Golden State” features state-wide statistics as well as local data from six key regions: Fresno, San Diego, San Jose, the Bay Area, the Inland Empire, and Orange County.  The report contains data on immigrant tax contributions, rates of entrepreneurship, and numbers of eligible voters. The full report is available at

   “Immigrants are a vital part of California,” said Reshma Sham-asunder, Director of the California Immigrant Policy Center. “This report shows tremendous statistical evidence that immigrants are building businesses, creating jobs, and supporting local economies with their substantial spending power.”

   “Looking Forward” was authored by researchers from the Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE), at the University of Southern California. PERE director and nationally recognized academic, Manuel Pastor led the research team.

   Key findings from the report include:

   § California immigrants are more entrepreneurial and are more likely to create their own jobs than native born workers.

   § California immigrants comprise more than a third of the state’s labor force.

   § Immigrant households make up 27% of the total household income in California, and thus represent a substantial share of all spending power in the state.

   § Immigrant workers contribute 32% of California’s GDP.

   § Immigrants in California have a combined federal tax contribution of more than $30 billion annually.

   § Nearly 2 out of 3 foreign-born California residents (6.8 million) are either U.S. citizens or are eligible to naturalize and vote.

   § Immigrant voters and their children will likely represent nearly 30% of all potential voters by 2012.

   § Immigrants and their children make up 41% of California’s population.

   § Of all children in California, 48% have at least one immigrant parent.

   “We’re seeing immigrants assume an increasingly important role in California’s economy and culture,” said Manuel Pastor, Director of USC’s PERE. “The longer they remain in the country, the more immigrants contribute, paying more in taxes than they receive through government programs after a very short period.”

“Comprehensive immigration reform will allow California’s immigrants to contribute even more to our economy and participate more fully in our communities,” added Shamasunder. “Harsh policies that force people into the shadows are not consistent with our values as a country. We need real solutions with a path to legalization for the many immigrants already working and living in California.

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