Immigrants and the economy in:


The roughly 250,000 new Americans living in Utah today are vitally important to the state. They serve as everything from livestock workers to entrepreneurs making them critical contributors to Utah’s economic success overall. Immigrants are also playing a huge part in ensuring that Utah remains a leading innovator in STEM fields like advanced manufacturing and data support.

  • 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 Utah, 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 3.9% 29.0%
16-64 87.3% 60.4%
65+ 8.8% 10.6%


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 Utah, like the country as a whole, immigrants are currently punching above their weight class as entrepreneurs.

People employed by immigrant-owned firms 31,224
Immigrant entrepreneurs 12,002
Business income of immigrant-owned firms $268.5M

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

Immigrant Household Income $6.1B
Taxes Paid $1.4B
State & Local Taxes $475.8M
Federal Taxes $925.4M
Total Spending Power $4.7B


Nationally, immigrants are 9.2 percent more likely to hold an advanced degree than the native-born. While Utah differs from the national education pattern, immigrants who are working in Utah still contribute to a wide range of different industries in the state—many of which are growing and important parts of the local economy.

Educational Attainment by Nativity, Age 25+
Workforce Education Foreign-Born Population Native-Born Population
Less Than High School 29.4% 5.3%
High School & Some College 47.9% 61.1%
Bachelor's Degree 14.2% 22.1%
Graduate Degree 8.5% 11.5%
Top Industries with Highest Share of Foreign-Born Workers
Medical equipment and supplies 30.7%
Traveler accommodation 23.6%
Restaurants and other food services 19.0%
Construction 18.7%
Colleges, universities, and professional schools 14.1%
Top Occupations with Highest Share of Foreign-Born Workers
Miscellaneous assemblers and fabricators 34.6%
Cooks 34.2%
Construction laborers 29.1%
Miscellaneous production workers, including 28.2%
Postsecondary teachers 21.4%

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 Utah remains a leading innovator in STEM fields like advanced manufacturing and data support.

STEM workers who are immigrants 11.0%
STEM Master's students who are foreign nationals 14.1%
STEM PhD students who are foreign nationals 30.6%


In the coming years, the American healthcare industry is projected to see incredibly rapid growth—adding more new positions from 2014 to 2024 than any other industry in our economy. In Utah, a state where one out of every ten residents is currently elderly, finding enough healthcare workers remains a challenge—and one that will likely worsen in the future. Immigrants, however, are already helping fill gaps in the healthcare workforce.

Open healthcare jobs to unemployed healthcare workers 23:1
Doctors who were educated abroad 12.9%
Psychiatrists who were educated abroad 14.6%
Nurses who are foreign-born 3.8%
Health aides who are foreign-born 12.0%


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

Immigrant homeowners 49,438
Share of recent homebuyers who were foreign-born 7.4%
Housing wealth held by immigrant households $11.4B
Amount paid by immigrant-led households in rent $416.9M

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 Utah, but they make a big impact.

Students at Utah colleges and universities who are international students 2.6%
Economic contribution of international students $175.1M
Jobs supported by international students 2,089

Voting Power

Nationwide, the power of immigrant voters is likely to continue to be a large factor in upcoming elections. Given their modest numbers, immigrants may not sway presidential elections in Utah where Donald Trump won by roughly 204,000 votes in 2016, but their votes may make a difference in closer statewide contests and primaries in the near future.

Immigrants eligible to vote 93,363
Immigrants registered to vote 42,637
Immigrants eligible to vote in 2020 103,463
2016 presidential election margin of victory 204,555

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

Undocumented immigrants 93,564
Share of undocumented immigrants, working age 91.6%
Undocumented Household Income $1.6B
Taxes Paid $159.7M
State & Local Taxes $66.9M
Federal Taxes $92.8M
Total Spending Power $1.4B

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 13,627
Share of DACA Eligible Population in Labor Force that is Employed 91.4%
DACA-Eligible Household Income $176.4M
State & Local Taxes $13.1M
Federal Taxes $9.1M
Total Spending Power $154.2M

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 15,335
State's Share of all Likely Refugees 0.7%
Share of Overall State Population, Refugee 0.5%
Taxes & Spending Power
Refugee Household Income $431.8M
Taxes Paid $108.0M
State & Local Taxes $32.8M
Federal Taxes $75.2M
Refugee Spending Power $323.9M

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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…