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Immigrants and the economy in:

Alaska
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Between 2010 and 2014, the foreign-born population in Alaska grew by more than 9,000 people, increasing in size by 19.4 percent. In percentage terms, only two other states in the country—North Dakota and Wyoming—saw faster increases. Many of these immigrants, often emigrating from Asia, continue to have ties to their communities back home, helping to bolster trade and international business relations in this state. The immigrants living in Alaska today also make broader contributions to the workforce. They often serve as everything from chief executives to registered nurses, making them critical contributors to Alaska’s economic success overall.

  • Immigrant Residents

    55,724
  • Immigrant Share of Population

    7.6%
  • Immigrant Taxes Paid (2014)

    $436.4M
  • Immigrant Spending Power (2014)

    $1.4B
  • Immigrant Entrepreneurs

    2,993
  • Employees at Immigrant-Owned Firms (Combined with Wyoming)

    15,512

Demographics

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 Alaska, where immigrants are more likely to be of working age than their native-born counterparts.

Age Group Foreign-Born Population Share Native-Born Population Share
0-24 19.3% 38.0%
25-64 69.9% 52.9%
65+ 10.7% 9.2%

Entrepreneurship

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. Alaska is currently home to almost 3,000 foreign-born entrepreneurs. Such business owners are creating real and meaningful economic opportunities to local, U.S.-born workers.

People employed by immigrant-owned firms (combined with Wyoming) 15,512
Immigrant entrepreneurs 2,993
Business income of immigrant-owned firms $58.5M

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 Alaska play an important role contributing to the state’s economy, both as consumers and taxpayers.

Immigrant Household Income $1.8B
Taxes Paid $436.4M
State & Local Taxes $60.7M
Federal Taxes $375.7M
Total Spending Power $1.4B

Workforce

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. In Alaska, immigrants play a particularly large role as food processing workers, butchers, and cleaners. Immigrants in Alaska also make up a vast majority of the seafood industry workforce.

Workforce Education Foreign-Born Population Native-Born Population
Less Than High School 21.3% 6.7%
High School & Some College 45.5% 64.7%
Bachelor's Degree 22.9% 18.3%
Graduate Degree 10.3% 10.4%
Top Industries with Highest Share of Foreign-Born Workers
Seafood and other miscellaneous foods 74.3%
Colleges, universities, and professional schools, including junior colleges 25.0%
Traveler accommodation  24.6%
Waste management and remediation services  18.4%
Child day care services  16.1%
Top Occupations with Highest Share of Foreign-Born Workers
Food processing workers, all other 93.8%
Butchers and other meat, poultry, and fish processing workers 68.5%
Inspectors, Testers, Sorters, Samplers, and Weighers 48.3%
Maids and Housekeeping cleaners 41.2%
Taxi Drivers and Chauffeurs 34.1%

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 Alaska remains a leading innovator in industries like life sciences and oil and gas engineering.

STEM workers who are immigrants 10.6%
STEM Master’s students who are foreign nationals 15.1%
STEM PhD students who are foreign nationals 28.9%

Healthcare

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 Alaska, a state where more than one out of every 11 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 26:1
Doctors who were educated abroad 8.9%
Psychiatrists who were educated abroad 20.8%
Nurses who are foreign-born 8.9%
Health aides who are foreign-born 15.2%

Housing

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 Alaska, immigrants are actively strengthening the state’s housing market.

Immigrant homeowners 9,583
Share of recent homebuyers who were foreign-born 6.1%
Housing wealth held by immigrant households $2.4B
Amount paid by immigrant-led households in rent $9.7M

International Students

International students in the United States 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 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 Alaska, but they make a big impact.

Students at Alaska colleges and universities who are international students 1.8%
Economic contribution of international students $17.6M
Jobs supported by international students 162

Voting Power

Nationwide, the power of immigrant voters is likely to continue to be a large factor in upcoming elections. Given their modest numbers, immigrants may not sway presidential elections in Alaska, where Mitt Romney won by roughly 42,000 votes in 2012, but their votes may make a difference in closer statewide contests and primaries in the near future.

Immigrants eligible to vote 27,750
Immigrants registered to vote 17,528
Immigrants eligible to vote in 2020 31,841
2012 presidential election margin of victory 42,036

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 Alaska, where undocumented immigrants contribute to many sectors of the economy, including the manufacturing, food, and accommodation industries.

Undocumented immigrants 7,891
Share of undocumented immigrants, working age 62.0%
Undocumented entrepreneurs 593

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