Immigrants in Siouxland Contribute Millions to Regional GDP and Play an Integral Role in the Local Workforce

SIOUX CITY, IA – Immigrants in Iowa’s Plymouth and Woodbury counties contributed $522.2 million to GDP and held $137.7 million in spending power in 2015, according to a new research brief released by New American Economy in partnership with One Siouxland. The report highlights the demographic and economic contributions of immigrants in the Tri-State Siouxland region by looking at the Sioux City metro area; Plymouth and Woodbury counties, Iowa; and Dakota County, Nebraska. It was published at the Building a Stronger Siouxland summit, a convening launching a new partnership between One Siouxland and Tyson Foods to build on the strategic plan for immigrant integration One Siouxland is currently drafting.

In addition to their financial contributions, the report shows the critical role the foreign-born play in the Siouxland workforce. In the Sioux City metro area, while 8.8 percent of the population, immigrants made up 11.4 percent of the employed population in 2015. And in Plymouth and Woodbury counties, immigrants represented 7.4 percent of the population but more than 10 percent of the working-age population and 9.4 percent of the employed workforce. The foreign-born in these Iowa counties play an outsize role in key industries such as manufacturing and construction, where they represent nearly a quarter and more than a fifth of workers, respectively.

The report’s findings will help inform a strategic planning process One Siouxland is leading with community partners to advance the civic, social, and economic integration of immigrants and refugees in the Siouxland region. Siouxland was one of 44 communities selected for the Gateways for Growth Challenge, a competitive opportunity from New American Economy and Welcoming America for local communities to receive tailored research on the contributions of immigrants, direct technical assistance to develop multi-sector plans for welcoming and integrating immigrants, and matching grants. One Siouxland was one of only six communities selected nationally to receive all three levels of support through this award.

One Siouxland, an affiliate fund of the Siouxland Community Foundation, is a collective impact initiative working across multiple sectors and both rivers to welcome and integrate all who call Siouxland “home” so that every resident can meaningfully contribute to the economic, civic, and cultural fabric of the community.

“The research brief New American Economy released today further supports the foundation One Siouxland is built on—our community is stronger with all of us,” said Erica DeLeon, Director of One Siouxland. “We are excited to bring this data to the community, and, together with over 30 governmental, business, nonprofit, educational, faith-based, and newcomer partners, continue to build a plan and action steps that will build a stronger community.”

“The Siouxland Chamber of Commerce recognizes the important role newcomers continue to play as key members of our workforce, as well as emerging entrepreneurs,” said Chris McGowan, President of the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce and The Siouxland Initiative. “As local businesses struggle to locate the labor force they require to continue to grow right here in Siouxland, our organization stands ready to support our membership and our community in fully harnessing the potential of our growing global talent base by working with One Siouxland in sharing the positive economic impact of newcomers on our region.”

“Immigration and economic health go hand in hand, and this new data out of Siouxland is just the latest proof,” said John Feinblatt, President of New American Economy. “Crafting a strategic plan to welcome newcomers will only help the tri-state region attract talent and grow local business in the years ahead.”

The brief, New Americans in the Siouxland Tri-State Region, finds:

  • Immigrants accounted for 75 percent of all population growth in the Sioux City metro area from 2010 to 2015. While the overall population increased by 1.3 percent, the foreign-born population increased by 12.3 percent.
  • Foreign-born residents contributed $522.2 million to the GDP in Woodbury and Plymouth counties in 2015. Immigrant households also support federal social programs, contributing $21.5 million to Social Security and $5.4 million to Medicare.
  • Immigrant households in the Woodbury and Plymouth counties earned $195.2 million in income in 2015. Foreign-born households also contributed $39.9 million in federal taxes and $17.7 million in state and local taxes, including property, sales, and excise taxes.
  • Immigrants in these Iowa counties held $137.6 million in spending power, the disposable income households have after paying taxes that can go back into the consumer economy and drive growth.
  • The foreign-born population in the Sioux City metro area is playing an outsize role in the workforce. While 8.8 percent of the population, immigrants represent 11.4 percent of the employed population. In Woodbury and Plymouth counties, they represent 7.3 percent of the population, but 10.1 percent of the working-age population and 9.4 percent of the workforce.
  • Immigrants accounted for nearly a quarter of manufacturing workers. 24.2 percent of all manufacturing workers in Woodbury and Plymouth counties were immigrants in 2015. The foreign-born also represented 20.5 percent of all construction workers.
  • Immigrants in Woodbury and Plymouth counties contributed $156.4 million to the property value of the counties. They also contributed $12.2 million in annual rent, money that goes back into the local economy and drives growth.
  • Nearly half—49.5 percent—of immigrants in Dakota County, Nebraska are naturalized citizens. In the Sioux City metro area, 40.1 percent of the foreign-born are naturalized citizens.

Read the full report here.

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…