Immigrants and the economy in:

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Today Maine is home to more than 50,000 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 despite the rapidly aging native-born population.

  • Immigrant Residents

  • Immigrant Share of Population

  • Immigrant Taxes Paid

  • Immigrant Spending Power

  • 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. As Maine'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 to address some of these demographic challenges.

Age Group Foreign-Born Population Share Native-Born Population Share
0-15 9.6% 17.1%
16-64 68.9% 63.6%
65+ 21.6% 19.2%


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 Maine, like the country as a whole, immigrants are currently punching above their weight class as entrepreneurs. Foreign-born workers currently make up 5.0 percent of all entrepreneurs in the state, despite being just 3.8 percent of Maine’s population.

People employed by immigrant-owned firms 14,659
Immigrant entrepreneurs 2,312
Business income of immigrant-owned firms $69.6M

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

Immigrant Household Income $1.4B
Taxes Paid $363.1M
State & Local Taxes $118.2M
Federal Taxes $244.9M
Total Spending Power $992.3M


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 Maine, where immigrants play a particularly large role in computer systems design, home health care services, and travel accommodation.

Educational Attainment by Nativity, Age 25+
Workforce Education Foreign-Born Population Native-Born Population
Less Than High School 13.6% 7.2%
High School & Some College 53.2% 62.2%
Bachelor's Degree 21.6% 19.1%
Graduate Degree 11.7% 11.4%
Top Industries with Highest Share of Foreign-Born Workers
Colleges, universities, and professional schools 6.8%
Individual and family services 6.7%
Restaurants and other food services 6.1%
Hospitals 4.2%
Grocery stores 2.9%
Top Occupations with Highest Share of Foreign-Born Workers
Registered nurses 7.3%
Cashiers 4.0%
Retail salespersons 3.6%
Miscellaneous managers, including funeral service 3.5%
First-line supervisors of retail sales workers 2.4%

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 Maine remains a leading innovator in industries like consumer and corporate analytics.

STEM workers who are immigrants 3.4%
STEM Master's students who are foreign nationals 7.2%
STEM PhD students who are foreign nationals 28.8%


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 Maine, a state where more than one out of every 5 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 25:1
Doctors who were educated abroad 17.0%
Psychiatrists who were educated abroad 12.9%
Nurses who are foreign-born 4.4%
Health aides who are foreign-born 4.8%


In 2014, the agriculture industry contributed $821 million to Maine’s GDP—a meaningful contribution. Within the agriculture industry, fresh fruits and vegetables played a prominent role. In 2014, more than 40 percent of crop farms in the state grew fresh produce. Maine also was one of the country’s leading producers of wild blueberries, producing almost $65 million worth of that crop in 2014.

Share of fresh fruit and vegetable farms 40.9%
Share of paid and hired farmworkers who were migrant workers 62.0%


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

Immigrant homeowners 11,763
Share of recent homebuyers who were foreign-born 4.1%
Housing wealth held by immigrant households $3.1B
Amount paid by immigrant-led households in rent $64.6M

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 Maine, but they make a big impact.

Students at Maine colleges and universities who are international students 2.2%
Economic contribution of international students $61.5M
Jobs supported by international students 571

Voting Power

In 2016, Maine was home to almost 26,000 foreign-born residents who were eligible to vote, including an estimated 17,000 foreign-born residents who had formally registered. While normally considered a relatively safe Democratic state, Donald Trump managed to win one of Maine's congressional districts in 2016.

Immigrants eligible to vote 26,546
Immigrants registered to vote 17,231
Immigrants eligible to vote in 2020 28,208
2016 presidential election margin of victory 22,142

The Economic Impact of Refugees

Despite leaving extreme and dangerous situations in their home countries, refugees are often able to rebound and prosper as they become more integrated into American society. Nationwide, we find that refugees hold billions of dollars in spending power and pay more than $20 billion in tax contributions to federal, state, and local governments each year. At the state level, they contribute millions of added dollars to local economies, making them an important driver of growth and prosperity for communities around the country.

Key Stats
Number of Likely Refugees 5,996
State's Share of all Likely Refugees 0.3%
Share of Overall State Population, Refugee 0.5%
Taxes & Spending Power
Refugee Household Income $84.2M
Taxes Paid $17.2M
State & Local Taxes $7.5M
Federal Taxes $9.7M
Refugee Spending Power $67.0M

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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…