Our new research reveals the many ways immigrants are helping revive the Great Lakes region.
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Between 2010 and 2014, the number of immigrants living in Montana grew by 19.1 percent—or more than three times as fast as the number of foreign-born residents increased in the country as a whole. Today, Montana is home to almost 24,000 individuals who were born in another country. These new Americans serve as everything from civil engineers to nursing aides, making them a critical part of 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 Montana, 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 23.8% 32.4%
25-64 57.2% 51.0%
65+ 19.0% 16.6%


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. Montana is currently home to more than 1,500 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 9,508
Immigrant entrepreneurs 1,525
Business income of immigrant-owned firms $63.9M

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

Immigrant Household Income $628.9M
Taxes Paid $154.7M
State & Local Taxes $36.1M
Federal Taxes $118.5M
Total Spending Power $474.2M


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 Montana, where immigrants play a particularly large role as doctors, electricians, and civil engineers.

Workforce Education Foreign-Born Population Native-Born Population
Less Than High School 18.0% 7.6%
High School & Some College 46.6% 64.5%
Bachelor's Degree 14.0% 18.6%
Graduate Degree 21.4% 9.3%
Top Industries with Highest Share of Foreign-Born Workers
Colleges, universities, and professional schools, including junior colleges 8.3%
Traveler accommodation  8.2%
Rail transportation  8.1%
Beauty salons  8.1%
Forestry, except logging  6.8%
Top Occupations with Highest Share of Foreign-Born Workers
Physicians and Surgeons 21.7%
Electricians 12.5%
Civil engineers 9.8%
Postsecondary teachers 9.4%
Hairdressers, Hairstylists, and Cosmetologists 9.0%

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 Montana remains a leading innovator in industries like industrial engineering and agricultural technology.

STEM workers who are immigrants 3.1%
STEM Master’s students who are foreign nationals 5.4%
STEM PhD students who are foreign nationals 9.4%


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 Montana, 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 17:1
Doctors who were educated abroad 8.1%
Psychiatrists who were educated abroad 11.3%
Nurses who are foreign-born 2.3%
Health aides who are foreign-born 4.5%


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

Immigrant homeowners 5,974
Share of recent homebuyers who were foreign-born 1.7%
Housing wealth held by immigrant households $1.3B
Amount paid by immigrant-led households in rent $3.3M

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 Montana, but they make a big impact.

Students at Montana colleges and universities who are international 3.4%
Economic contribution of international students $49.0M
Jobs supported by international students 534

Voting Power

In 2014, Montana was home to almost 11,000 foreign-born residents who were eligible to vote, including an estimated 7,000 foreign-born residents who had formally registered. Those numbers are unlikely to sway a presidential election in this relatively safe Republican state, where Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney won by roughly 66,000 votes in 2012. Still, it can make a difference in closer statewide contests and primaries.

Immigrants eligible to vote 10,993
Immigrants registered to vote 7,079
Immigrants eligible to vote in 2020 11,294
2012 presidential election margin of victory 66,089

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 Montana, where hundreds of undocumented immigrants have started their own businesses, hiring American workers and stimulating local economies.

Undocumented immigrants 3,959
Share of undocumented immigrants, working age 81.7%
Undocumented entrepreneurs 645

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