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Immigrants and the economy in:


Today, Florida is home to almost 4 million immigrants. That means that one in five residents of Florida were born abroad. These immigrants play an important role in this state, where more than 19 percent of the population is already elderly—a higher proportion than any other place in America. By infusing Florida with young workers, immigrants help replenish the workforce and strengthen the state’s tax base. New Americans in Florida today serve as everything from farm laborers to entrepreneurs, making them critical contributors to the state’s economic success overall.

  • 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 Florida, 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 12.2% 33.7%
25-64 67.7% 47.5%
65+ 20.2% 18.8%


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 Florida, like the country as a whole, immigrants are currently punching far above their weight class as entrepreneurs. Foreign-born workers currently make up 33.2 percent of all entrepreneurs in the state, despite accounting for 20.0 percent of Florida’s population.

People employed by immigrant-owned firms 506,778
Immigrant entrepreneurs 338,011
Business income of immigrant-owned firms $5.2B
Fortune 500 companies in Florida founded by immigrants or their children 42.9%

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

Immigrant Household Income $96.6B
Taxes Paid $23.4B
State & Local Taxes $6.4B
Federal Taxes $17.0B
Total Spending Power $73.1B


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 Florida, immigrants play a particularly large role as personal appearance workers, agricultural workers, and nursing aides.

Workforce Education Foreign-Born Population Native-Born Population
Less Than High School 22.2% 9.7%
High School & Some College 52.8% 62.2%
Bachelor's Degree 15.8% 18.0%
Graduate Degree 9.2% 10.1%
Top Industries with Highest Share of Foreign-Born Workers
Crop production  57.5%
Private households  52.8%
Traveler accommodation  42.4%
Services to buildings and dwellings  41.6%
Home healthcare services  40.7%
Top Occupations with Highest Share of Foreign-Born Workers
Miscellaneous personal appearance workers 72.3%
Miscellaneous agricultural workers, including animal breeders 71.2%
Maids and Housekeeping cleaners 58.4%
Painters, construction and maintenance 46.1%
Nursing, Psychiatric, and Home health aides 43.0%

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 Florida remains a leading innovator in industries like aviation, aerospace, and life sciences.

STEM workers who are immigrants 22.1%
STEM Master’s students who are foreign nationals 23.9%
STEM PhD students who are foreign nationals 35.2%


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 Florida, a well-known destination for retirees and where more than one out of every 5 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 5:1
Doctors who were educated abroad 35.8%
Psychiatrists who were educated abroad 46.9%
Nurses who are foreign-born 24.5%
Health aides who are foreign-born 39.4%


In 2014, the agriculture industry contributed $6.4 billion to the state’s gross domestic product, placing the state among the top 10 nationally in terms of the size of that contribution. That year, Florida exported more fresh fruits, as measured in farm receipts, than all but two other states in the country. It also produced almost $1.3 billion worth of Florida oranges, an iconic crop long associated with the state. Florida’s leading role as a grower of fresh produce makes the state’s agriculture industry inherently reliant on immigrants, as these are almost always harvested by hand.

Share of fresh fruit and vegetable farms 39.2%
Share of misc. agriculture workers, foreign-born 77.4%
Share of all agriculture workers, foreign-born 51.0%
Amount agriculture directly contributed to Florida's economy $6.4B


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

Immigrant homeowners 906,922
Share of recent homebuyers who were foreign-born 20.3%
Housing wealth held by immigrant households $217.8B
Amount paid by immigrant-led households in rent $727.7M

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 Florida, but they make a big impact.

Students at Florida colleges and universities who are international 3.9%
Economic contribution of international students $1.1B
Jobs supported by international students 14,389

Voting Power

Nationwide, the power of immigrant voters is likely to continue to be a large factor in upcoming elections. In 2014, Florida was home to more than 2 million foreign-born residents who were eligible to vote, including an estimated 1.4 million foreign-born residents who had formally registered. Those numbers are particularly meaningful, given the narrow margins of victory that have decided elections in the state in recent years. In 2012, President Barack Obama won Florida by roughly 74,000 votes.

Immigrants eligible to vote 2,057,261
Immigrants registered to vote 1,393,352
Immigrants eligible to vote in 2020 2,322,885
2012 presidential election margin of victory 74,309

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 Florida, where undocumented immigrants contribute hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes each year.

Undocumented immigrants 829,045
Share of undocumented immigrants, working age 79.8%
Undocumented entrepreneurs 93,744
Undocumented Household Income $11.2B
Taxes Paid $1.3B
State & Local Taxes $406.9M
Federal Taxes $882.4M
Total Spending Power $9.9B

The Economic Impact of Refugees

Despite leaving extreme and dangerous situations in their home countries, refugees are often able to rebound and prosper as they become more integrated into American society. Nationwide, we find that refugees hold billions of dollars in spending power and pay more than $20 billion in tax contributions to federal, state, and local governments each year. At the state level, they contribute millions of added dollars to local economies, making them an important driver of growth and prosperity for communities around the country.

Key Facts
Number of Likely Refugees 77,963
State's Share of all Likely Refugees 3.4%
Share of Overall State Population, Refugee 0.4%
Taxes & Spending Power
Refugee Household Income $2.5B
Taxes Paid $624.4M
State & Local Taxes $165.3M
Federal Taxes $459.1M
Refugee Spending Power $1.9B

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