Immigrants and the economy in:


Texas is home to more than 4.7 million immigrants, the second-largest population of immigrants in the country behind California. They play an important role contributing to the state as both taxpayers and consumers. By spending the money they earn at businesses such as hair salons, grocery stores, and coffee shops, immigrants also support small business owners and job creation. The vast majority of new Americans in Texas are working age; they serve as everything from groundskeepers to software developers, making them valuable contributors to the state’s economic success.

  • 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 Texas, 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 5.1% 27.0%
16-64 83.8% 60.8%
65+ 11.1% 12.2%


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 Texas, firms with at least one immigrant owner provided jobs to roughly 422,000 Americans in 2007.

People employed by immigrant-owned firms 421,942
Immigrant entrepreneurs 357,420
Business income of immigrant-owned firms $9.2B
Fortune 500 companies in Texas founded by immigrants or their children 27.5%

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

Immigrant Household Income $133.3B
Taxes Paid $32.1B
State & Local Taxes $9.6B
Federal Taxes $22.5B
Total Spending Power $101.2B


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 Texas, where immigrants play a particularly large role in crop production, software development, and clothing manufacturing.

Educational Attainment by Nativity, Age 25+
Workforce Education Foreign-Born Population Native-Born Population
Less Than High School 39.7% 10.4%
High School & Some College 36.3% 59.2%
Bachelor's Degree 13.7% 20.4%
Graduate Degree 10.3% 9.9%
Top Industries with Highest Share of Foreign-Born Workers
Private households 56.6%
Nail salons and other personal care services 56.5%
Landscaping services 52.8%
Miscellaneous wood products 51.3%
Services to buildings and dwellings 50.9%
Top Occupations with Highest Share of Foreign-Born Workers
Miscellaneous personal appearance workers 77.3%
Roofers 75.3%
Drywall installers, ceiling tile installers, and 75.1%
Brickmasons, blockmasons, stonemasons, and 69.5%
Painters and paperhangers 67.9%

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 Texas remains a leading innovator in industries like advanced manufacturing and aerospace.

STEM workers who are immigrants 25.6%
STEM Master's students who are foreign nationals 42.7%
STEM PhD students who are foreign nationals 46.3%


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 Texas, 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 10:1
Doctors who were educated abroad 25.6%
Psychiatrists who were educated abroad 30.7%
Nurses who are foreign-born 20.4%
Health aides who are foreign-born 20.7%


In 2014, the agriculture industry contributed $11.2 billion to Texas' GDP, providing jobs to more than 100,000 Texans. Within that massive industry, fresh fruits and vegetables played a prominent role. Texas' leading role as a fresh produce producer makes the state’s agriculture industry inherently reliant on immigrants, as fresh fruits and vegetables—unlike commodity crops—are almost always harvested by hand. In Texas, immigrants make up more than two-thirds of all agriculture workers employed in grading and sorting roles.

Share of misc. agriculture workers, foreign-born 44.0%
Share of all agriculture workers, foreign-born 27.6%
Amount agriculture directly contributes to Texas' economy $11.2B


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

Immigrant homeowners 1,097,744
Share of recent homebuyers who were foreign-born 19.4%
Housing wealth held by immigrant households $203.6B
Amount paid by immigrant-led households in rent $8.1B

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 Texas, but they make a big impact.

Students at Texas colleges and universities who are international students 4.6%
Economic contribution of international students $1.7B
Jobs supported by international students 21,545

Voting Power

In 2016, Texas was home to more than 1.6 million foreign-born residents who were eligible to vote, including an estimated roughly 907,000 foreign-born residents who had formally registered. Although few would call Texas a swing state today, the sheer size of the state’s immigrant voting bloc means it has the potential to impact the outcomes of national and state elections, considering that Donald Trump won the state by 807,000.

Immigrants eligible to vote 1,676,844
Immigrants registered to vote 906,742
Immigrants eligible to vote in 2020 1,809,435
2016 presidential election margin of victory 807,179

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 Texas, where undocumented immigrants contribute billions of dollars in taxes each year.

Undocumented immigrants 1,762,822
Share of undocumented immigrants, working age 89.9%
Undocumented Entrepreneurs 141,235
Undocumented Household Income $30.5B
Taxes Paid $3.2B
State & Local Taxes $1.3B
Federal Taxes $1.9B
Total Spending Power $27.3B

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 226,195
Share of DACA Eligible Population in Labor Force that is Employed 91.2%
Number of DACA-Eligible Entrepreneurs 7,229
DACA-Eligible Household Income $3.0B
State & Local Taxes $258.6M
Federal Taxes $214.7M
Total Spending Power $2.6B

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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…