Immigration has helped to revitalize communities across the United States with more manufacturing jobs, increased housing wealth and heightened civic engagement, according to a new report from organizations advocating federal immigration reform.
The Americas Society/Council of the Americas and Partnership for a New American Economy this week released the report, "Immigration and the Revival of American Cities," which estimates that 46 manufacturing jobs are created or preserved for every 1,000 immigrants who move into a county.
The report analyzed data for nearly 3,100 U.S. counties from the U.S. Census Bureau and the American Community Survey to measure the impact of immigration on three leading indicators of community vitality: the number of middle-class manufacturing jobs; the health of the housing market; and the size of the local U.S.-born population.
The report highlighted Buena Vista County in Iowa as an example of how an influx of more than 2,000 immigrants in the past 20 years helped to revitalize the meatpacking industry in that rural county and create nearly 1,700 jobs there. Although meatpacking is the main source of employment in the county, immigration has also "sparked a wave of local entrepreneurship," the report said, citing a wooden pallet manufacturer and a wholesale bakery as examples.
In Central Iowa, Polk County gained 10,906 immigrants between 2000 and 2010, and foreign-born people now account for 7.8 percent of the county's population, or nearly 33,000 residents, according to the report. The report estimates that home values in Polk County are $1,242 higher due to immigration, and that 1,512 manufacturing jobs are attributable to immigration.
Additional findings from the report:
- The more than 40 million immigrants currently in the U.S. have created or preserved 1.8 million manufacturing jobs nationally.
- Attracting 100,000 new immigrants per year would preserve 4,600 American manufacturing jobs and grow U.S. housing wealth by $80 billion annually.
- The more than 40 million immigrants are responsible for an estimated $3.7 trillion boost to home equity.