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Immigrants and the economy in:

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More than 90,000 Delaware residents were born abroad. Immigrants contribute to Delaware as taxpayers, consumers, workers, and entrepreneurs. Specifically, immigrant entrepreneurs have long been a critical part of Delaware’s economic success story. Half of the Fortune 500 companies based in Delaware were founded by immigrants or their children, including DuPont, which employs 63,000 people globally and brings in almost $35 billion in revenues each year.

  • Immigrant Residents

  • Immigrant Share of Population

  • Immigrant Taxes Paid

  • Immigrant Spending Power

  • Immigrant Entrepreneurs

  • Employees at Immigrant-Owned Firms (Combined with Washington, D.C.)



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 Delaware, 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
0-15 3.2% 20.7%
16-64 81.8% 61.5%
65+ 15.0% 17.8%


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 Delaware, like the country as a whole, immigrants are currently punching above their weight class as entrepreneurs, with more than 5,500 immigrants owning their own business.

People employed by immigrant-owned firms (combined with Washington, D.C.) 41,672
Immigrant entrepreneurs 5,537
Business income of immigrant-owned firms $77.3M
Fortune 500 companies in Delaware founded by immigrants or their children 50.0%

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

Immigrant Household Income $3.0B
Taxes Paid $701.7M
State & Local Taxes $153.2M
Federal Taxes $548.6M
Total Spending Power $2.3B


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 Delaware, where immigrants play a particularly large role as software developers, doctors, and cooks.

Educational Attainment by Nativity, Age 25+
Workforce Education Foreign-Born Population Native-Born Population
Less Than High School 20.1% 9.0%
High School & Some College 41.4% 60.2%
Bachelor's Degree 18.9% 19.4%
Graduate Degree 19.7% 11.4%
Top Industries with Highest Share of Foreign-Born Workers
Banking and related activities 18.6%
Colleges, universities, and professional schools 18.3%
Construction 17.3%
Restaurants and other food services 10.6%
Hospitals 9.8%
Top Occupations with Highest Share of Foreign-Born Workers
Miscellaneous managers, including funeral service 14.0%
Registered nurses 13.4%
Secretaries and administrative assistants 3.4%
Elementary and middle school teachers 1.0%

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 Delaware remains a leading innovator in industries like aviation, life sciences, and chemical manufacturing.

STEM workers who are immigrants 27.7%
STEM Master's students who are foreign nationals 45.0%
STEM PhD students who are foreign nationals 51.0%


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 Delaware, a state where more than 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 13:1
Doctors who were educated abroad 26.1%
Psychiatrists who were educated abroad 45.2%
Nurses who are foreign-born 11.1%
Health aides who are foreign-born 10.3%


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

Immigrant homeowners 19,671
Share of recent homebuyers who were foreign-born 9.8%
Housing wealth held by immigrant households $5.6B
Amount paid by immigrant-led households in rent $212.4M

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 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 Delaware, but they make a big impact.

Students at Delaware colleges and universities who are international students 9.1%
Economic contribution of international students $142.7M
Jobs supported by international students 1,848

Voting Power

Nationwide, the power of immigrant voters is likely to continue to be a large factor in upcoming elections. While immigrants may not sway the outcomes of presidential elections in this reliably Democratic state—Hillary Clinton won here by more than 50,000 votes—they may have an impact on statewide and primary elections in the future.

Immigrants eligible to vote 43,206
Immigrants registered to vote 23,469
Immigrants eligible to vote in 2020 45,778
2016 presidential election margin of victory 50,476

Undocumented Immigrants

The United States is currently home to an estimated 11.0 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 Delaware, where undocumented immigrants contribute millions of dollars in taxes each year.

Undocumented immigrants 28,766
Share of undocumented immigrants, working age 88.0%

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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…