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Immigrants and the economy in:

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Between 2010 and 2016, the foreign-born population in Alaska grew by more than 8,000 people. Many of these immigrants, often emigrating from Asia, continue to have ties to their communities back home, helping to bolster trade and international business relations in this state. The immigrants living in Alaska today also make broader contributions to the workforce. They often serve as everything from chief executives to registered nurses, making them critical contributors to Alaska’s economic success overall.

  • Immigrant Residents

  • Immigrant Share of Population

  • Immigrant Taxes Paid

  • Immigrant Spending Power

  • Immigrant Entrepreneurs

  • Employees at Immigrant-Owned Firms (Combined with Wyoming)



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 Alaska, where immigrants are more likely to be of working age than their native-born counterparts.

Age Group Foreign-Born Population Share Native-Born Population Share
0-15 6.7% 24.3%
16-64 83.2% 65.6%
65+ 10.1% 10.1%


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. Alaska is currently home to almost 3,000 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 (combined with Wyoming) 15,512
Immigrant entrepreneurs 3,128
Business income of immigrant-owned firms $67.8M

Taxes & Spending Power

Nationally, immigrants earned $1.4 trillion in 2016 and contributed more than $117 billion in state and local taxes, as well as almost $262 billion in federal taxes. This left them with more than $1.0 billion in spending power. Immigrants in Alaska play an important role contributing to the state’s economy both as consumers and taxpayers.

Immigrant Household Income $1.8B
Taxes Paid $399.0M
State & Local Taxes $63.1M
Federal Taxes $335.9M
Total Spending Power $1.4B


Nationally, immigrants are 9.2 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 Alaska, where immigrants play a particularly large role as food processing workers, butchers, and cleaners. Immigrants in Alaska also make up a vast majority of the seafood industry workforce.

Educational Attainment by Nativity, Age 25+
Workforce Education Foreign-Born Population Native-Born Population
Less Than High School 18.7% 6.2%
High School & Some College 57.8% 63.8%
Bachelor's Degree 17.4% 18.4%
Graduate Degree 6.0% 11.6%
Top Industries with Highest Share of Foreign-Born Workers
Restaurants and other food services 18.6%
Elementary and secondary schools 13.8%
Hospitals 10.6%
Construction 5.2%
Executive offices and legislative bodies 0.1%

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 Alaska remains a leading innovator in industries like life sciences and oil and gas engineering.

STEM workers who are immigrants 7.8%
STEM Master's students who are foreign nationals 11.4%
STEM PhD students who are foreign nationals 19.5%


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 Alaska, a state where more than one out of every 11 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 38:1
Doctors who were educated abroad 8.9%
Psychiatrists who were educated abroad 20.8%
Nurses who are foreign-born 11.6%
Health aides who are foreign-born 21.7%


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

Immigrant homeowners 11,364
Share of recent homebuyers who were foreign-born 8.0%
Housing wealth held by immigrant households $3.5B
Amount paid by immigrant-led households in rent $120.2M

International Students

International students in the United States contributed more than $36.9 billion to the U.S. economy in the 2016-2017 school year and supported more than 450,000 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 Alaska, but they make a big impact.

Students at Alaska colleges and universities who are international students 1.9%
Economic contribution of international students $15.2M
Jobs supported by international students 123

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 Alaska, where Donald Trump won by roughly 46,000 votes in 2016, but their votes may make a difference in closer statewide contests and primaries in the near future.

Immigrants eligible to vote 32,827
Immigrants registered to vote 18,785
Immigrants eligible to vote in 2020 35,206
2016 presidential election margin of victory 46,933

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About NAE

New American Economy is a bipartisan research and advocacy organization fighting for smart federal, state, and local immigration policies that help grow our economy and create jobs for all Americans. More…