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Immigrants and the economy in:

New Mexico
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New Mexico is home to almost 214,000 individuals who were born in another country. The immigrants who are working here contribute to a wide range of different industries in the state—many of which are growing and important parts of the local economy. Foreign-born residents make up almost half of New Mexico’s employees in the crop production industry. They also account for 40.1 percent of the state’s workers in animal production, contributing to New Mexico’s sizable dairy and livestock industries, which together generated more than $1.9 billion in sales receipts in 2014.

  • 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 New Mexico, 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 16.3% 36.3%
25-64 69.9% 48.4%
65+ 13.8% 15.3%


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 New Mexico, like the country as a whole, immigrants are currently punching above their weight class as entrepreneurs. Foreign-born workers currently make up 14.1 percent of all entrepreneurs in the state, despite being just 10.3 percent of New Mexico’s population.

People employed by immigrant-owned firms 23,932
Immigrant entrepreneurs 11,765
Business income of immigrant-owned firms $190.3M

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

Immigrant Household Income $4.5B
Taxes Paid $1.2B
State & Local Taxes $394.3M
Federal Taxes $756.9M
Total Spending Power $3.4B


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 New Mexico, immigrants play a particularly large role as carpenters, agricultural workers, and roofers.

Workforce Education Foreign-Born Population Native-Born Population
Less Than High School 45.3% 11.0%
High School & Some College 37.6% 61.0%
Bachelor's Degree 9.5% 16.3%
Graduate Degree 7.6% 11.7%
Top Industries with Highest Share of Foreign-Born Workers
Crop production  47.4%
Animal production 40.1%
Private households  38.4%
Services to buildings and dwellings  33.3%
Traveler accommodation  31.9%
Top Occupations with Highest Share of Foreign-Born Workers
Miscellaneous agricultural workers, including animal breeders 55.8%
Maids and Housekeeping cleaners 52.2%
Carpenters 40.2%
Dishwashers 37.7%
Roofers 37.2%

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 New Mexico remains a leading innovator in industries like aerospace and biotechnology.

STEM workers who are immigrants 11.1%
STEM Master’s students who are foreign nationals 20.2%
STEM PhD students who are foreign nationals 44.8%


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 New Mexico, a state where nearly one out of every 7 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 9:1
Doctors who were educated abroad 21.5%
Psychiatrists who were educated abroad 21.5%
Nurses who are foreign-born 6.5%
Health aides who are foreign-born 10.0%


In 2014, the agriculture sector contributed $1.6 billion to the state’s economy. It also directly employed more than 15,700 New Mexicans. Although New Mexico produces a healthy amount of fresh fruits and vegetables, the state is primarily known for its dairy, another segment of agriculture that is increasingly reliant on foreign-born workers.

Share of fresh fruit and vegetable farms 23.3%
Share of all agriculture workers, foreign-born 37.4%
Share of animal production workers who are immigrants 41.7%


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

Immigrant homeowners 58,261
Share of recent homebuyers who were foreign-born 13.7%
Housing wealth held by immigrant households $10.3B
Amount paid by immigrant-led households in rent $22.5M

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 boosts innovation and patent creation. International students represent a small portion of all students in New Mexico, but they make a big impact.

Students at New Mexico colleges and universities who are international 3.5%
Economic contribution of international students $114.6M
Jobs supported by international students 1,277

Voting Power

In 2014, New Mexico was home to roughly 73,000 foreign-born residents who were eligible to vote, including an estimated 43,000 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 New Mexico by less than 80,000 votes.

Immigrants eligible to vote 72,449
Immigrants registered to vote 43,069
Immigrants eligible to vote in 2020 77,540
2012 presidential election margin of victory 79,547

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 New Mexico, where undocumented immigrants contribute tens of millions of dollars in taxes each year.

Undocumented immigrants 71,737
Share of undocumented immigrants, working age 77.3%
Undocumented entrepreneurs 5,311
Undocumented Household Income $1.1B
Taxes Paid $132.2M
State & Local Taxes $49.0M
Federal Taxes $83.2M
Total Spending Power $951.9M

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 Stats
Number of Likely Refugees 4,170
State's Share of all Likely Refugees 0.2%
Share of Overall State Population, Refugee 0.2%
Taxes & Spending Power
Refugee Household Income $129.2M
Taxes Paid $36.7M
State & Local Taxes $9.2M
Federal Taxes $27.6M
Refugee Spending Power $92.5M

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