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Immigrants and the economy in:

North Dakota
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Between 2010 and 2014, the foreign-born population in North Dakota grew by 62.4 percent. No other state experienced anywhere near as rapid growth. Over 27,000 immigrants call North Dakota home and are contributing to the state through taxes and consumer spending. They are also filling important jobs in the labor market in industries such as psychiatry and traveler accommodation.

  • 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 North Dakota, 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% 35.9%
25-64 67.0% 49.7%
65+ 9.2% 14.4%


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. North Dakota is currently home to almost 900 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 11,757
Immigrant entrepreneurs 863
Business income of immigrant-owned firms $12.7M

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

Immigrant Household Income $559.6M
Taxes Paid $124.6M
State & Local Taxes $36.4M
Federal Taxes $88.2M
Total Spending Power $435.0M


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 North Dakota, where immigrants play a particularly large role as office support workers, maids, and postsecondary teachers.

Workforce Education Foreign-Born Population Native-Born Population
Less Than High School 19.3% 6.6%
High School & Some College 50.3% 67.9%
Bachelor's Degree 21.4% 19.0%
Graduate Degree 9.1% 6.6%
Top Industries with Highest Share of Foreign-Born Workers
Services to buildings and dwellings  33.9%
Individual and family services  19.8%
Department stores  18.8%
Traveler accommodation  17.7%
Outpatient care centers  13.8%
Top Occupations with Highest Share of Foreign-Born Workers
Misc. office and administrative support workers, including desktop publishers 28.5%
Maids and Housekeeping cleaners 20.1%
Misc. assemblers and fabricators 20.1%
Postsecondary teachers 18.4%
Retail salespersons 15.1%

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 North Dakota remains a leading innovator in industries like engineering design and oil and gas technology.

STEM workers who are immigrants 3.0%
STEM Master’s students who are foreign nationals 26.5%
STEM PhD students who are foreign nationals 49.1%


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 North Dakota, 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 8:1
Doctors who were educated abroad 28.8%
Psychiatrists who were educated abroad 42.9%
Nurses who are foreign-born 3.5%
Health aides who are foreign-born 5.4%


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

Immigrant homeowners 2,934
Share of recent homebuyers who were foreign-born 1.7%
Housing wealth held by immigrant households $695M
Amount paid by immigrant-led households in rent $4.2M

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 North Dakota, but they make a big impact.

Students at North Dakota colleges and universities who are international 5.4%
Economic contribution of international students $61.1M
Jobs supported by international students 623

Voting Power

In 2014, North Dakota was home to more than 8,700 foreign-born residents who were eligible to vote, including an estimated 5,000 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 63,000 votes in 2012. Still, it can make a difference in closer statewide contests and primaries.

Immigrants eligible to vote 8,731
Immigrants registered to vote 4,599
Immigrants eligible to vote in 2020 10,719
2012 presidential election margin of victory 63,336

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 North Dakota, where undocumented immigrants play significant roles in the health services industry.

Undocumented immigrants 6,367
Share of undocumented immigrants, working age 80.1%
Undocumented entrepreneurs 213

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