Immigrants Add $1.6 Billion Annually to State Economy

With the entire nation focused on our struggling economy, Americans are looking for solutions to our financial crisis. Last week, the University of Nebraska at Omaha released a report detailing the effects of immigrants on the state's economies, and the results are clear - immigrants help to bolster our economy. Period. I'm sure you are all aware of the nativist rhetoric falsely claiming that immigrants are a "drain" on our resources and "don't pay taxes". But, as the new Nebraska report shows, nothing could be further from the truth.


Immigrants add $1.6 billion annually in spending to the state's economy and fill a critical role in the work force, according to the study.

While the data available to researchers was not able to differentiate between legal and unauthorized immigrants, the report does make claims regarding legal status and economic contributions.

The first being that undocumented migrants are largely employed and are contributing to production, employment and taxes similar to legal immigrants. "Moreover, it would be reasonable to also assume that the economic contributions of unauthorized immigrants are more than likely underestimated by all accounts, and that their public costs are likely lower than for authorized immigrants or the native born as a whole," a draft of the policy brief says.

Other interesting findings from the report include:

The state’s immigrant population contributed about $154 million in the form of property, income, sales and gasoline tax revenue in 2006. This amounts to about $1,554 in per capita contributions. By contrast, the state’s corresponding per capita contribution from the native-born population is about $1,944.

In terms of government costs, the immigrant population in Nebraska accounted for $144.78 million from food stamps, public assistance, health, and educational expenditures in 2006. This amounts to about $1,455 per capita. By contrast, the corresponding per capita costs from the native-born population are about $1,941.

While the contribution to cost ratio is 1.0 for the native population, the corresponding ratio for the immigrant group is 1.07, indicating that this group “pays in” about seven percent more of what it uses in terms of governmental support.

Click here to read the full report.