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Immigrants and the economy in:


Texas is home to nearly 4.5 million immigrants, the second-largest population of immigrants in the country behind California. They play an important role contributing to the state as both taxpayers and consumers. By spending the money they earn at businesses such as hair salons, grocery stores, and coffee shops, immigrants also support small business owners and job creation. The vast majority of new Americans in Texas are working-age; they serve as everything from groundskeepers to software developers, making them valuable contributors to the state’s economic success.

  • 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 Texas, 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 14.7% 40.9%
25-64 75.2% 47.3%
65+ 10.2% 11.7%


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 Texas, firms with at least one immigrant owner provided jobs to roughly 422,000 Americans in 2007.

People employed by immigrant-owned firms 421,942
Immigrant entrepreneurs 336,293
Business income of immigrant-owned firms $7.9B
Fortune 500 companies in Texas founded by immigrants or their children 29.1%

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

Immigrant Household Income $118.7B
Taxes Paid $29.1B
State & Local Taxes $8.7B
Federal Taxes $20.4B
Total Spending Power $89.6B


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 Texas, immigrants play a particularly large role in crop production, software development, and clothing manufacturing.

Workforce Education Foreign-Born Population Native-Born Population
Less Than High School 41.8% 10.8%
High School & Some College 35.5% 59.8%
Bachelor's Degree 13.1% 19.7%
Graduate Degree 9.5% 9.7%
Top Industries with Highest Share of Foreign-Born Workers
Private households  53.6%
Landscaping services  52.5%
Services to buildings and dwellings  46.7%
Construction  37.4%
Electronic components and products, misc.  35.0%
Top Occupations with Highest Share of Foreign-Born Workers
Painters, Construction and Maintenance 60.4%
Maids and Housekeeping Cleaners 60.2%
Grounds Maintenance Workers 51.0%
Construction Laborers 49.8%
Carpenters 48.9%

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 Texas remains a leading innovator in industries like advanced manufacturing and aerospace.

STEM workers who are immigrants 24.1%
STEM Master’s students who are foreign nationals 33.9%
STEM PhD students who are foreign nationals 48.1%


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 Texas, 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 6:1
Doctors who were educated abroad 25.6%
Psychiatrists who were educated abroad 30.7%
Nurses who are foreign-born 18.4%
Health aides who are foreign-born 19.4%


In 2014, the agriculture industry contributed $11.2 billion to Texas' GDP, providing jobs to more than 100,000 Texans. Within that massive industry, fresh fruits and vegetables played a prominent role. Texas' leading role as a fresh produce producer makes the state’s agriculture industry inherently reliant on immigrants, as fresh fruits and vegetables—unlike commodity crops—are almost always harvested by hand. In Texas, immigrants make up more than two-thirds of all agriculture workers employed in grading and sorting roles.

Share of misc. agriculture workers, foreign-born 44.0%
Share of all agriculture workers, foreign-born 27.6%
Amount agriculture directly contributes to Texas' economy $11.2B


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

Immigrant homeowners 1,036,752
Share of recent homebuyers who were foreign-born 19.2%
Housing wealth held by immigrant households $171.2B
Amount paid by immigrant-led households in rent $713.6M

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 Texas, but they make a big impact.

Students at Texas colleges and universities who are international 4.5%
Economic contribution of international students $1.5B
Jobs supported by international students 18,903

Voting Power

In 2014, Texas was home to more than 1.5 million foreign-born residents who were eligible to vote, including an estimated roughly 790,000 foreign-born residents who had formally registered. Although few would call Texas a swing state today, the sheer size of the state’s immigrant voting bloc means it has the potential to impact the outcomes of national and state elections, considering that Mitt Romney won the state by less than 1.2 million votes.

Immigrants eligible to vote 1,502,146
Immigrants registered to vote 790,403
Immigrants eligible to vote in 2020 1,677,574
2012 presidential election margin of victory 1,261,719

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 Texas, where undocumented immigrants contribute billions of dollars in taxes each year.

Undocumented immigrants 1,792,500
Share of undocumented immigrants, working age 81.0%
Undocumented entrepreneurs 158,348
Undocumented Household Income $25.4B
Taxes Paid $2.8B
State & Local Taxes $1.1B
Federal Taxes $1.7B
Total Spending Power $22.6B

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