Immigrants and the economy in:


Today, Oregon is home to almost 400,000 immigrants. These new Americans make enormous contributions to the state, often serving as agriculture workers, entrepreneurs, taxpayers, and engineers. Immigrants are also valuable to Oregon for another key reason: they help add to the population of young, working-age individuals in the state. In Oregon, almost one in six residents of the state are already older than age 65. By adding to the tax base and workforce, immigrants help ensure the economy can support the many retirees in the state. They also help ensure the state’s employers have ready workers available as the many baby boomers in the state retire.

  • 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 Oregon, 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 3.8% 20.2%
16-64 83.2% 62.6%
65+ 13.0% 17.2%


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 Oregon, like the country as a whole, immigrants are currently punching above their weight class as entrepreneurs, with more than 23,000 immigrants owning their own business in the state.

People employed by immigrant-owned firms 70,165
Immigrant entrepreneurs 23,420
Business income of immigrant-owned firms $473.0M
Fortune 500 companies in Oregon founded by immigrants or their children 33.3%

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

Immigrant Household Income $12.4B
Taxes Paid $3.2B
State & Local Taxes $915.2M
Federal Taxes $2.2B
Total Spending Power $9.3B


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 Oregon, where immigrants play a particularly large role as agricultural workers, hand packers, and truck and tractor operators.

Educational Attainment by Nativity, Age 25+
Workforce Education Foreign-Born Population Native-Born Population
Less Than High School 32.1% 6.6%
High School & Some College 37.8% 60.5%
Bachelor's Degree 15.5% 20.5%
Graduate Degree 14.6% 12.4%
Top Industries with Highest Share of Foreign-Born Workers
Crop production 46.8%
Landscaping services 39.9%
Electronic components and products, n.e.c. 33.4%
Services to buildings and dwellings 32.5%
Animal production and aquaculture 28.5%
Top Occupations with Highest Share of Foreign-Born Workers
Miscellaneous agricultural workers 64.1%
Grounds maintenance workers 37.0%
Maids and housekeeping cleaners 33.3%
Cooks 32.0%
Miscellaneous production workers, including 27.0%

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 Oregon remains a leading innovator in industries like information technology and precision manufacturing.

STEM workers who are immigrants 17.8%
STEM Master's students who are foreign nationals 21.4%
STEM PhD students who are foreign nationals 21.1%


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 Oregon, a state where nearly 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 21:1
Doctors who were educated abroad 13.6%
Psychiatrists who were educated abroad 11.9%
Nurses who are foreign-born 7.5%
Health aides who are foreign-born 14.5%


In 2014, the agriculture industry contributed almost $4.1 billion to Oregon’s GDP. It also provided employment to more than 60,000 Oregonians. Within that large industry agriculture industry, fresh fruits and vegetables played a prominent role. In 2014, the state exported $260.9 million worth of fresh and processed fruits. The state also produced almost $130 million worth of pears, the second-most of any state in the country.

Share of fresh fruit and vegetable farms 35.8%
Share of misc. agriculture workers, foreign-born 72.6%
Share of all agriculture workers, foreign-born 39.9%
Amount that agriculture directly contributes to Oregon's economy $4.1B


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

Immigrant homeowners 83,967
Share of recent homebuyers who were foreign-born 9.8%
Housing wealth held by immigrant households $27.7B
Amount paid by immigrant-led households in rent $865.2M

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 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 Oregon, but they make a big impact.

Students at Oregon colleges and universities who are international students 5.1%
Economic contribution of international students $414.7M
Jobs supported by international students 4,714

Voting Power

In 2016, Oregon was home to almost 176,000 foreign-born residents who were eligible to vote, including an estimated 109,000 foreign-born residents who had formally registered. Those numbers are unlikely to sway a presidential election in this relatively safe Democratic state, where Hillary Clinton won by 192,000 votes in 2016. Still, it can make a difference in closer statewide contests and primaries.

Immigrants eligible to vote 176,782
Immigrants registered to vote 109,626
Immigrants eligible to vote in 2020 185,695
2016 presidential election margin of victory 219,703

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 Oregon, where undocumented immigrants contribute tens of millions of dollars in taxes each year.

Undocumented immigrants 94,769
Share of undocumented immigrants, working age 91.8%
Undocumented Household Income $2.2B
Taxes Paid $260.0M
State & Local Taxes $80.2M
Federal Taxes $179.8M
Total Spending Power $1.9B

The DACA-Eligible Population

Our analysis of the 1.3 million DACA-eligible individuals nationwide found that DACA-eligible people were contribution billions of dollars to the U.S. economy. But DACA, of course, gains more resonance when we look beyond the national picture. Every state in the country is currently home to hundreds—or in many cases, thousands—of DACA-eligible people. Clawing back the protections afforded to this group upsets community networks and schools, and can hurt local employers and businesses dependent upon Dreamers to serve as workers and customers.

Number of DACA Eligible Residents 16,062
Share of DACA Eligible Population in Labor Force that is Employed 93.6%
DACA-Eligible Household Income $208.1M
State & Local Taxes $13.0M
Federal Taxes $12.2M
Total Spending Power $182.8M

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 28,393
State's Share of all Likely Refugees 1.2%
Share of Overall State Population, Refugee 0.7%
Taxes & Spending Power
Refugee Household Income $951.7M
Taxes Paid $237.8M
State & Local Taxes $70.6M
Federal Taxes $167.2M
Refugee Spending Power $713.9M

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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…