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Immigrants and the economy in:

North Dakota
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Between 2010 and 2016, the foreign-born population in North Dakota grew by faster than any other state. No other state experienced anywhere near as rapid growth. Almost 24,000 immigrants call North Dakota home and are contributing to the state through taxes and consumer spending. They are also filling important jobs in the labor market in industries such as psychiatry and traveler accommodation.

  • 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. This is equally true in North Dakota, 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 6.9% 21.2%
16-64 83.0% 64.1%
65+ 10.1% 14.7%


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. North Dakota is currently home to more than 1,000 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 11,757
Immigrant entrepreneurs 1,079
Business income of immigrant-owned firms $35.2M

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

Immigrant Household Income $878.9M
Taxes Paid $224.3M
State & Local Taxes $48.5M
Federal Taxes $175.8M
Total Spending Power $654.6M


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 North Dakota, where immigrants play a particularly large role as office support workers, maids, and postsecondary teachers.

Educational Attainment by Nativity, Age 25+
Workforce Education Foreign-Born Population Native-Born Population
Less Than High School 22.9% 8.2%
High School & Some College 40.6% 62.9%
Bachelor's Degree 21.6% 21.7%
Graduate Degree 14.9% 7.1%
Top Industries with Highest Share of Foreign-Born Workers
Colleges, universities, and professional schools 13.7%
Restaurants and other food services 12.2%
Construction 4.4%
Hospitals 2.7%
Crop production 2.4%
Top Occupations with Highest Share of Foreign-Born Workers
Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers 8.3%
Secretaries and administrative assistants 5.5%
Driver/sales workers and truck drivers 5.4%
Elementary and middle school teachers 4.1%
Miscellaneous managers, including funeral service 2.2%

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 North Dakota remains a leading innovator in industries like engineering design and oil and gas technology.

STEM workers who are immigrants 6.5%
STEM Master's students who are foreign nationals 28.0%
STEM PhD students who are foreign nationals 59.8%


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 North Dakota, 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 14:1
Doctors who were educated abroad 28.8%
Psychiatrists who were educated abroad 42.9%
Nurses who are foreign-born 4.6%
Health aides who are foreign-born 2.9%


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

Immigrant homeowners 3,026
Share of recent homebuyers who were foreign-born 2.2%
Housing wealth held by immigrant households $658.7M
Amount paid by immigrant-led households in rent $78.5M

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 North Dakota, but they make a big impact.

Students at North Dakota colleges and universities who are international students 5.4%
Economic contribution of international students $61.4M
Jobs supported by international students 593

Voting Power

In 2016, North Dakota was home to more than 9,300 foreign-born residents who were eligible to vote, including an estimated 4,700 foreign-born residents who had formally registered. Those numbers are unlikely to sway a presidential election in this relatively safe Republican state, where Republican Donald Trump won by roughly 123,000 votes in 2016. Still, it can make a difference in closer statewide contests and primaries.

Immigrants eligible to vote 9,363
Immigrants registered to vote 4,750
Immigrants eligible to vote in 2020 11,053
2016 presidential election margin of victory 123,036

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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…