Our new research reveals the many ways immigrants are helping revive the Great Lakes region.
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Today, Vermont is home to more than 24,000 immigrants. These new Americans play outsize roles as everything from food service managers to computer programmers. For many business owners, such immigrant workers have been a vital reason why their businesses have been able to thrive in recent years.

  • Immigrant Residents

  • Immigrant Share of Population

  • Immigrant Taxes Paid (2014)

  • Immigrant Spending Power (2014)

  • Immigrant Entrepreneurs

  • Employees at Immigrant-Owned Firms (Combined with Rhode Island)



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. As Vermont's slow population growth may potentially deprive businesses of customers and employers of a workforce they can depend on as more baby boomers retire, immigrants are likely to help address some of these demographic challenges.

Age Group Foreign-Born Population Share Native-Born Population Share
0-24 22.4% 30.3%
25-64 61.0% 52.7%
65+ 16.5% 17.0%


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. Vermont is currently home to almost 1,400 foreign-born entrepreneurs. They are creating real and meaningful economic opportunities for local, U.S.-born workers.

People employed by immigrant-owned firms (combined with Rhode Island) 27,605
Immigrant entrepreneurs 1,350
Business income of immigrant-owned firms $30.3M

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

Immigrant Household Income $654.7M
Taxes Paid $192.3M
State & Local Taxes $57.9M
Federal Taxes $134.4M
Total Spending Power $462.5M


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 Vermont, where immigrants play a particularly large role in crop production, as well as in the healthcare industry.

Workforce Education Foreign-Born Population Native-Born Population
Less Than High School 23.6% 7.3%
High School & Some College 35.7% 56.8%
Bachelor's Degree 19.0% 22.1%
Graduate Degree 21.7% 13.9%
Top Industries with Highest Share of Foreign-Born Workers
Clothing stores 19.6%
Administration of human resource programs  15.9%
Crop production  15.8%
Nursing care facilities (skilled nursing facilities)  14.3%
Restaurants and other food services  12.3%
Top Occupations with Highest Share of Foreign-Born Workers
Food Service Managers 38.8%
Software Developers Applications and Systems Software 25.0%
Packaging and Filling Machine Operators and Tenders 16.3%
Management Analysts 13.9%
First-Line Supervisors of Retail Sales Workers 12.9%

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 Vermont remains a leading innovator in STEM fields like advanced manufacturing and green energy.

STEM workers who are immigrants 5.9%
STEM Master’s students who are foreign nationals 4.7%
STEM PhD students who are foreign nationals 25.4%


In the coming years, the American healthcare industry is projected to see incredibly rapid growth—adding more new positions from 2014 to 2024 than any other industry in our economy. In Vermont, a state where more than one out of every six residents is currently elderly, finding enough healthcare workers remains a challenge—and one that will likely worsen in the future. Immigrants, however, are already helping fill gaps in the healthcare workforce.

Open healthcare jobs to unemployed healthcare workers 7:1
Doctors who were educated abroad 14.9%
Psychiatrists who were educated abroad 14.4%
Nurses who are foreign-born 6.5%
Health aides who are foreign-born 8.9%


In 2014, the agriculture industry contributed almost $516 million to Vermont's GDP. Within that massive industry, livestock, maple, and dairy played a prominent role. One 2015 study found that 51 percent of the laborers on U.S. dairy farms were immigrants. What’s more, roughly 70 percent of the dairies that hired immigrant laborers reported having "low" or "medium" levels of confidence in the authenticity of their workers’ documents—indicating that such establishments are vulnerable to immigration raids or uncertainty surrounding their ability to find sufficient workers in the future.

Share of all agriculture workers, foreign-born 5.3%
Share of all dairy workers in Vermont who are immigrants 51.0%


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

Immigrant homeowners 5,574
Share of recent homebuyers who were foreign-born 3.7%
Housing wealth held by immigrant households $1.5B
Amount paid by immigrant-led households in rent $2.9M

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 Vermont, but they make a big impact.

Students at Vermont colleges and universities who are international 3.5%
Economic contribution of international students $60.4M
Jobs supported by international students 596

Voting Power

Nationwide, the power of immigrant voters is likely to continue to be a large factor in upcoming elections. Given their modest numbers, immigrants may not sway presidential elections in Vermont, where Barack Obama won by roughly 107,000 votes in 2012, but their votes may make a difference in closer statewide contests and primaries in the near future.

Immigrants eligible to vote 9,941
Immigrants registered to vote 7,110
Immigrants eligible to vote in 2020 12,871
2012 presidential election margin of victory 106,541

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 Vermont, where undocumented immigrants play small, but significant roles in agriculture and manufacturing.

Undocumented immigrants 1,979
Share of undocumented immigrants, working age 82.8%
Undocumented entrepreneurs 44

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