Join the movement for immigration reform.
Add Your Name

Immigrants and the economy in:


Pennsylvania today is home to more than 810,000 immigrants. Without the addition of more foreign-born residents, Pennsylvania’s population would have declined by almost 78,000 people between 2010 and 2014. Instead, immigrants are bolstering the state’s economy and working in a wide range of different industries—many of which are growing and important parts of the local economy—including computer systems design, pharmaceuticals and medicines, and agriculture.

  • Immigrant Residents

  • Immigrant Share of Population

  • Immigrant Taxes Paid (2014)

  • Immigrant Spending Power (2014)

  • Immigrant Entrepreneurs

  • Employees at Immigrant-Owned Firms



In the United States, immigrants are more likely to be working-age than their U.S.-born counterparts. This allows them to contribute to the U.S. economy and to entitlement programs as they work and pay taxes. This is equally true in Pennsylvania where immigrants are far more likely to be of working age than the U.S.-born population.

Age Group Foreign-Born Population Share Native-Born Population Share
0-24 16.1% 31.6%
25-64 69.8% 51.6%
65+ 14.1% 16.8%


In 2010, roughly one in 10 American workers with jobs at private firms were employed at immigrant-founded companies. Such businesses also generated more than $775 billion in annual business revenue that year. In Pennsylvania, like the country as a whole, immigrants are currently punching above their weight class as entrepreneurs. Foreign-born workers currently make up 10.1 percent of all entrepreneurs in the state, despite accounting for 6.4 percent of Pennsylvania’s population.

People employed by immigrant-owned firms 143,211
Immigrant entrepreneurs 49,435
Business income of immigrant-owned firms $1.2B
Fortune 500 companies in Pennsylvania founded by immigrants or their children 47.4%

Taxes & Spending Power

Nationally, immigrants earned $1.3 trillion in 2014 and contributed more than $104 billion in state and local taxes, as well as almost $224 billion in federal taxes. This left them with nearly $927 billion in spending power. Immigrants in Pennsylvania play an important role contributing to the state’s economy, both as consumers and taxpayers.

Immigrant Household Income $25.8B
Taxes Paid $7.2B
State & Local Taxes $2.1B
Federal Taxes $5.0B
Total Spending Power $18.6B


Nationally, immigrants are 17.2 percent more likely to hold an advanced degree than the native-born. They are also more likely to have less than a high school education. Uniquely, this allows them to fill critical shortages at both ends of the skill spectrum, from high-tech fields to agriculture, hospitality, and service industries. This holds true in Pennsylvania, where immigrants play a particularly large role as software developers, doctors, and packers.

Workforce Education Foreign-Born Population Native-Born Population
Less Than High School 22.6% 9.5%
High School & Some College 40.4% 62.4%
Bachelor's Degree 19.0% 17.4%
Graduate Degree 18.0% 10.7%
Top Industries with Highest Share of Foreign-Born Workers
Crop production  22.4%
Computer systems design and related services  21.7%
Motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment  20.8%
Pharmaceuticals and medicines  19.6%
Private households  16.7%
Top Occupations with Highest Share of Foreign-Born Workers
Software developers, applications and systems software 33.7%
Physicians and Surgeons 26.4%
Packers and Packagers, hand 24.7%
Maids and Housekeeping cleaners 21.7%
Miscellaneous agricultural workers, including animal breeders 21.1%

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math

Between 2014 and 2024, science, technology, engineering, and math—or “STEM”—fields are projected to play a key role in U.S. economic growth, adding almost 800,000 new jobs and growing 37.0 percent faster than the U.S. economy as a whole. Immigrants are already playing a huge part ensuring that Pennsylvania remains a leading innovator in industries like telecommunications and finance.

STEM workers who are immigrants 14.9%
STEM Master’s students who are foreign nationals 32.0%
STEM PhD students who are foreign nationals 39.1%


In the coming years, the American healthcare industry is projected to see rapid growth—adding more new positions from 2014 to 2024 than any other industry in our economy. In Pennsylvania, a state where nearly one out of every 6 people is currently elderly, finding enough healthcare workers remains a challenge—and one that will likely worsen in the future.

Open healthcare jobs to unemployed healthcare workers 4:1
Doctors who were educated abroad 23.6%
Psychiatrists who were educated abroad 33.1%
Nurses who are foreign-born 6.0%
Health aides who are foreign-born 9.9%


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 communities and make them more attractive to U.S.-born residents. In Pennsylvania, immigrants are actively strengthening the state’s housing market.

Immigrant homeowners 185,967
Share of recent homebuyers who were foreign-born 7.9%
Housing wealth held by immigrant households $48.2B
Amount paid by immigrant-led households in rent $150.4M

International Students

International students in the United States also contributed more than $30.5 billion to the U.S. economy in the 2014-2015 school year and supported more than 370,000 jobs through their tuition payments and day-to-day spending. Research has also found that increases in the number of international students at American universities boost innovation and patent creation. International students represent a small portion of all students in Pennsylvania, but they make a big impact.

Students at Pennsylvania colleges and universities who are international 5.7%
Economic contribution of international students $1.4B
Jobs supported by international students 20,309

Voting Power

In 2014, Pennsylvania was home to almost 393,000 foreign-born residents who were eligible to vote, including an estimated 213,000 foreign-born residents who had formally registered. Those numbers are particularly meaningful given the narrow margins of victory that have decided elections in this swing state in recent years. In 2012, President Barack Obama won Pennsylvania by less than 310,000 votes.

Immigrants eligible to vote 392,789
Immigrants registered to vote 213,139
Immigrants eligible to vote in 2020 451,611
2012 presidential election margin of victory 309,840

Undocumented Immigrants

The United States is currently home to an estimated 11.4 million undocumented immigrants, the vast majority of whom have lived in the country for more than five years. The presence of so many undocumented immigrants for such a long time presents many legal and political challenges. But while politicians continue to debate what to do about illegal immigration without any resolution, millions of undocumented immigrants are actively working across the country, and collectively, these immigrants have a large impact on the U.S. economy. This is true in Pennsylvania, where undocumented immigrants contribute hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes each year.

Undocumented immigrants 171,929
Share of undocumented immigrants, working age 81.0%
Undocumented entrepreneurs 12,425
Undocumented Household Income $2.5B
Taxes Paid $304.6M
State & Local Taxes $118.0M
Federal Taxes $186.6M
Total Spending Power $2.2B

View All States & Districts

Explore Key Issues in: Pennsylvania

11 Results

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…

We can help you stay up to speed on the latest news about immigration and the economy.
Follow us on Facebook