Immigrants and the economy in:


Today, Oregon is home to almost 400,000 immigrants. These new Americans make enormous contributions to the state, often serving as agriculture workers, entrepreneurs, taxpayers, and engineers. Immigrants are also valuable to Oregon for another key reason: they help add to the population of young, working-age individuals in the state. In Oregon, almost one in six residents of the state are already older than age 65. By adding to the tax base and workforce, immigrants help ensure the economy can support the many retirees in the state. They also help ensure the state’s employers have ready workers available as the many baby boomers in the state retire.

  • 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 Oregon, 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 15.5% 32.4%
25-64 73.1% 51.1%
65+ 11.5% 16.4%


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. In Oregon, like the country as a whole, immigrants are currently punching above their weight class as entrepreneurs. Foreign-born workers currently make up 10.7 percent of all entrepreneurs in the state, despite accounting for 9.8 percent of Oregon’s population.

People employed by immigrant-owned firms 70,165
Immigrant entrepreneurs 22,370
Business income of immigrant-owned firms $473.8M
Fortune 500 companies in Oregon founded by immigrants or their children 33.3%

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

Immigrant Household Income $9.9B
Taxes Paid $2.4B
State & Local Taxes $736.6M
Federal Taxes $1.7B
Total Spending Power $7.4B


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 Oregon, immigrants play a particularly large role as agricultural workers, hand packers, and truck and tractor operators.

Workforce Education Foreign-Born Population Native-Born Population
Less Than High School 31.8% 7.4%
High School & Some College 43.2% 61.2%
Bachelor's Degree 13.9% 19.7%
Graduate Degree 11.0% 11.6%
Top Industries with Highest Share of Foreign-Born Workers
Crop production  48.4%
Fruit and vegetable preserving and specialty foods  45.3%
Services to buildings and dwellings  30.9%
Groceries and related products  30.7%
Animal production 27.6%
Top Occupations with Highest Share of Foreign-Born Workers
Miscellaneous agricultural workers, including animal breeders 55.6%
Packers and Packagers, hand 47.4%
Industrial Truck and tractor operators 43.5%
Maids and Housekeeping cleaners 40.7%
Software developers, applications and systems software 30.0%

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 Oregon remains a leading innovator in industries like information technology and precision manufacturing.

STEM workers who are immigrants 14.2%
STEM Master’s students who are foreign nationals 18.4%
STEM PhD students who are foreign nationals 21.8%


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 Oregon, 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 11:1
Doctors who were educated abroad 13.6%
Psychiatrists who were educated abroad 11.9%
Nurses who are foreign-born 7.1%
Health aides who are foreign-born 14.4%


In 2014, the agriculture industry contributed almost $4.1 billion to Oregon’s GDP. It also provided employment to more than 60,000 Oregonians. Within that large industry agriculture industry, fresh fruits and vegetables played a prominent role. In 2014, the state exported $260.9 million worth of fresh and processed fruits. The state also produced almost $130 million worth of pears, the second-most of any state in the country.

Share of fresh fruit and vegetable farms 35.8%
Share of misc. agriculture workers, foreign-born 72.6%
Share of all agriculture workers, foreign-born 39.9%
Amount that agriculture directly contributes to Oregon's economy $4.1B


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

Immigrant homeowners 74,349
Share of recent homebuyers who were foreign-born 9.6%
Housing wealth held by immigrant households $21.9B
Amount paid by immigrant-led households in rent $77.2M

International Students

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

Students at Oregon colleges and universities who are international 5.2%
Economic contribution of international students $405.9M
Jobs supported by international students 4,670

Voting Power

In 2014, Oregon was home to almost 152,000 foreign-born residents who were eligible to vote, including an estimated 93,000 foreign-born residents who had formally registered. Those numbers are unlikely to sway a presidential election in this relatively safe Democratic state, where President Barack Obama won by roughly 216,000 votes in 2012. Still, it can make a difference in closer statewide contests and primaries.

Immigrants eligible to vote 151,669
Immigrants registered to vote 92,799
Immigrants eligible to vote in 2020 164,306
2012 presidential election margin of victory 216,313

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

Undocumented immigrants 114,195
Share of undocumented immigrants, working age 84.6%
Undocumented entrepreneurs 5,729
Undocumented Household Income $1.6B
Taxes Paid $165.3M
State & Local Taxes $60.9M
Federal Taxes $104.4M
Total Spending Power $1.4B

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