Report Finds Foreign-born Minnesotans Contribute Billions in Purchasing Power and Taxes, Strengthen State Housing Market


Sarah Radosevich, Minnesota Chamber of Commerce,
Angie Zeitlin, New American Economy,
Adriana La Rotta, Americas Society/Council of the Americas,

40% of Minnesota’s Fortune 500 Companies founded by immigrants or their children

Average home value in Hennepin County rose by more than $2,000 between 2008-12 due solely to arrival of immigrants

MINNEAPOLIS –The Minnesota Business Immigration Coalition, New American Economy, and Americas Society/Council of the Americas (AS/COA) today released new research highlighting the important role that Minnesota’s foreign-born population plays in the state’s economy. Analysis finds that foreign-born Minnesotans contribute more in tax contributions and purchasing power than previously realized, and that they are responsible for 7.5 percent of the state’s gross domestic product.

The report was released as leaders in business and government, as well as other stakeholders, from across Minnesota and the region convened in Minneapolis for a private roundtable on maximizing the contributions of immigrants in Minnesota. The meeting was hosted by Americas Society/Council of the Americas and New American Economy, in collaboration with Minnesota’s Chicano and Latino Affairs Council.

“This is the third research report that the Minnesota Business Immigration Coalition has completed since 2009. Each says loud and clear that immigrants are key to the development and growth of Minnesota’s economy,” said Bill Blazar, interim president of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, which leads the Minnesota Business Immigration Coalition. “The only thing limiting their contributions is the current immigration system. It’s broken and needs fixing now. We can’t think of a better or more effective federal job creation program than passing immigration reform legislation.”

“Minnesota’s immigration story is one that is being played out across the nation – that immigrants are a driving force behind the state’s economic recovery and success,” said John Feinblatt, Chairman of New American Economy. “This report sheds new light on the role of immigrants in making Minnesota one of the nation’s leading states for Fortune 500 companies, strengthening the state’s housing market and expanding GDP.”

“As we continue to wait for national leaders to act on comprehensive immigration reform, this report shows how Minnesota – like many states around the country – has an opportunity to leverage the talent and contributions of its immigrant population,” added Susan Segal, president and CEO of the Americas Society/Council of the Americas. “In the absence of a common-sense solution federally, it falls upon states and cities to create an environment that welcomes immigrants, recognizing the vital role they play in making U.S. communities competitive in the global market.”

Among the report’s key findings:

  • The overall role of immigrants in the state’s economy has resulted in meaningful GDP gains in recent years. In 2012, immigrants contributed more than $22.4 billion to the Minnesota’s GDP. That means they accounted for 7.5 percent of the total GDP in the state that year.
  • Almost 40 percent of Minnesota’s Fortune 500 firms were founded by an immigrant or the child of an immigrant. In 2014, the state was home to 18 Fortune 500 companies, placing it in the top 10 states with the most such firms in the country. Together, the list of companies founded by immigrants or their children—a group that includes 3M, Medtronic, and Hormel Foods—employ more than 264,000 people globally and bring in more than $100 billion in revenues each year.
  • The purchasing power of immigrants in Minnesota totaled more than $7.7 billion in 2013 alone. This brief utilizes an updated method to calculate immigrants’ purchasing power that allows for a more detailed, and in-depth analysis of immigrant wages than was available in previous studies. This method of analyzing the income of immigrants produces a surprising finding: although long recognized as an important part of Minnesota’s economic picture, immigrants have far higher amounts of disposable income than has been reported before.
  • Immigrants help sustain Minnesota’s public services through tax contributions and contributions to critical entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare. In 2013, immigrants in Minnesota contributed more than $1.2 billion in state and local taxes and more than $1.5 billion to Social Security and Medicare that year.
  • Immigrants accounted for nearly 29 percent of Minnesota’s population growth from 2000 to 2013. During that time, the foreign-born population grew from 260,463 people to 403,514—an increase of nearly 55 percent in a 13-year period. For comparison, that growth rate outpaced the trend in nearby Wisconsin, where 21 percent of population growth was due to immigrants, and the foreign-born population increased by a little over 41 percent during the same period.
  • The foreign-born play a key role in maintaining—and increasing—housing values in Minnesota. In some parts of the state, most notably the Hennepin County area around Minneapolis, the value of the average home rose by more than $2,000 between 2008 and 2012 due solely to the arrival of immigrants. In other areas that saw an outflow of immigrants, housing values fell by more than $1,200 during that period, compounding the impact of the financial crisis.

See the full research brief, “Immigrant Contributions to Minnesota’s Economy.”

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…