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Immigrants and the economy in:

Grand Rapids Metro Area

  • Immigrant Residents

  • Immigrant Share of Population

  • Immigrant Taxes Paid (2014)

  • Immigrant Spending Power (2014)

  • Immigrant Entrepreneurs



Similar to the United States as a whole, immigrants in most cities are more likely to be of working age—defined as being between the ages of 25 and 64—than the native-born population. This allows them to contribute to U.S. entitlement programs and also assume roles helping seniors as they age.

Age Group Foreign-Born Population Share Native-Born Population Share
0-24 21.0% 36.6%
25-64 66.4% 50.5%
65+ 12.5% 12.9%

Population Growth in the Great Lakes Region

Immigrants accounted for half of population growth in the Great Lakes region between 2000 and 2015. In nine of the top 25 metros in the region, immigrants offset population decline. Learn more in our report, New Americans and a New Direction: The Role of Immigrants in Reviving the Great Lakes Region.

Percentage Change in Grand Rapids MSA Population Size, 2000-2015
U.S.-born 9.5%
Foreign-born 44.1%
Total 11.4%


Nationally, immigrants are 17.2 percent more likely to hold a graduate degree than natives. They are also more likely to have less than a bachelor’s degree. This lets them assume positions at the high and low ends of the workforce that might otherwise remain unfilled, hurting local businesses or leading employers to relocate elsewhere. Here, we show the educational attainment of immigrants in this metro area and the five industries where they make up the largest share of workers.

Our research on the Great Lakes region also revealed that Grand Rapids saw a 29.1% increase in U.S.-born working-class employment in manufacturing from 2000-2015. This increase took place in part because immigrants fill the higher skilled jobs that allow companies to stay local, as opposed to moving offshore. Additionally, by filling much needed positions as physicians and surgeons, immigrants help keep doctors’ offices and hospitals operating and expanding, allowing Grand Rapids to achieve a 30.6% increase in U.S.-born working-class employment in healthcare from 2000-2015.

Workforce Education Foreign-Born Population Native-Born Population
Less Than High School 31.2% 8.6%
High School & Some College 40.5% 60.4%
Bachelor's Degree 14.8% 20.5%
Graduate Degree 13.6% 10.6%
Top Five Industries by Share of Immigrant Workers
15.1% Manufacturing
10.1% Tourism, Hospitality, and Recreation
8.9% Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services
7.1% Administrative Support
6.5% Transportation and Warehousing

Voting Power

Nationally, 19.1 million immigrants were eligible to vote in 2014—a group that could have a particularly important role in coming election cycles, given the narrow margins of victory that have decided presidential elections in recent years.

Eligible Immigrant Voters, 2014 23,737

Home Ownership

Immigrant families have long played an important role helping to build housing wealth in the United States. In recent decades, the more than 40 million immigrants collectively in the country increased U.S. housing wealth by $3.7 trillion. Much of this was possible because immigrants moved into neighborhoods once in decline, helping to revitalize local communities and make them more attractive to U.S.-born residents.

Between 2000 and 2015, the number of U.S.-born homeowners slipped 0.6 percent. But in the Great Lakes region, the number of foreign-born homeowners actually increased by 36.5 percent. See more data about cities in the Great Lakes region here.

Number of Homes Owned by Immigrants, 2014 13,182
Percent Change in Foreign-born Home Ownership, 2000-2015 62.6%

Taxes & Spending Power

Nationally, immigrants earned $1.3 trillion in 2014 and contributed $105 billion in state and local taxes and almost $224 billion in federal taxes. This left them with nearly $927 billion in spending power. Immigrants play an important role contributing to local economies both as consumers and taxpayers.

Immigrant Household Income $1.4B
Taxes Paid $365.6M
State & Local Taxes $121.9M
Federal Taxes $243.7M
Total Spending Power $1.1B


Immigrants nationally are 28 percent more likely to be entrepreneurs than natives. In 2010, roughly one in 10 American workers with jobs at private firms were employed at immigrant-founded companies. Immigrants similarly play an important role as entrepreneurs in this metro area.

The number of immigrant entrepreneurs in the Great Lakes region grew by more than 120,000 between 2000 and 2015, while fewer U.S.-born residents took the risk of starting their own businesses. By 2015, more than one out of every 10 entrepreneurs in the region was foreign-born. Immigrants also made up more than one out of every five of the region’s Main Street business owners, operations that created nearly 240,000 working-class jobs for U.S.-born workers between 2000 and 2015 alone. Learn more in our report on the Great Lakes region.

How many immigrant entrepreneurs reside in this metro area? 1,921
Percentage Change in Number of Entrepreneurs, 2000-2015
U.S.-born Foreign-born
12.9% 168.5%

About Us

New American Economy brings together more than 500 mayors and business leaders who support immigration reforms that will help create jobs for Americans today. More…

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