Foreign-Born Residents Contributed $220 Million to Missoula Region GDP in 2016

Immigrants paid over $26 million in taxes; held over $93 million in spending power

MISSOULA, MT – Immigrants in the Missoula region contributed $219.9 million to the region’s GDP in 2016 and paid $19.3 million in federal taxes and $7 million in state and local taxes, according to a new report by New American Economy (NAE), in partnership with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Missoula and the City of Missoula Office of Housing and Community Development. The report was presented during a community event featuring Missoula Mayor John Engen and Helena Mayor Wilmot Collins hosted by the International Rescue Committee in Missoula at the Missoula Federal Credit Union.

In addition to their financial contributions, the new report shows the role the immigrant population in the Missoula region plays in the local labor force. Though they are 2.3 percent of the region’s population, immigrants punch above their weight, representing 3.3 percent of workers in Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) fields and 4.1 percent of all entrepreneurs. The report also shows that 52.5 percent of immigrants in the Missoula region held a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to only 32 percent of the U.S.-born population.

“Outside of Washington, D.C., facts still matter, and this report helps us understand immigration in Missoula, the important role that new residents from around the world play in our community and reminds us that we all come from somewhere and we all have something to contribute,” said Missoula Mayor John Engen. “I’m proud to serve a welcoming community and grateful to live in a place where we celebrate our diversity while remembering how much we have in common.”

“The International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Missoula is proud to resettle refugees in the Missoula community. We are thrilled to live in such a welcoming city with strong community support and amazing volunteers who welcome new arrivals with open arms,” said Jen Barile, Resettlement Director of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Missoula. “We are grateful to NAE for the opportunity to highlight the significant contributions of immigrants to the Missoula area, and we feel honored to help refugees start their lives here in Missoula, in order to do just that. We are thankful for the support we’ve received from Mayor John Engen and Mayor Wilmot Collins, are we are grateful to refugees and all immigrants for enriching our lives and this community.”

“Embracing immigration is in every city’s economic interest, and Missoula’s success helps prove it,” said John Feinblatt, President of New American Economy. “Immigrants continue to build Missoula’s tax base, power key local industries, and start new businesses of their own.”

The brief, New Americans in Missoula, finds:

  • Immigrants contributed $219.9 million to Missoula’s GDP in 2016. Immigrant households earned $119.9 million in income in 2016. Of that, $19.3 million went to federal taxes and $7 million went to state and local taxes, leaving them with $93.6 million in spending power.
  • Despite making up just 2.3 percent of the overall population, immigrants played an outsize role in the employed labor force in 2016. Foreign-born workers represented 2.6 percent of Missoula’s working-age population and 2.8 percent of its employed labor force that year.
  • Immigrants in the Missoula region were much more likely than their U.S.-born counterparts to have a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2016.2 percent of immigrants had a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2016, compared to 32 percent of the U.S.-born. And 22.9 percent of immigrants had an advanced degree, compared to 10.9 percent of the U.S.-born.
  • Immigrants are overrepresented as entrepreneurs in the region. Despite making up only 2.3 percent of the populations, immigrants accounted for 4.1 percent of all entrepreneurs in the region in 2016.
  • Immigrants play a critical role in several key industries in the region, including STEM fields. Foreign-born workers made up 5.5 percent of all workers in hospitality and recreation and 4.1 percent of workers in the professional services industry. They also made up 3.3 percent of STEM workers, higher than their share of the population.
  • Over half of immigrants and refugees in the region—or nearly 3,000 individuals—were naturalized citizens in 2016.

Read the full research brief here.

Missoula is one of 44 communities selected for the Gateways for Growth Challenge, a competitive opportunity from New American Economy and Welcoming America where local communities receive tailored research on the contributions of immigrants, direct technical assistance to develop multi-sector plans for welcoming and integrating immigrants, or matching grants.

About the International Rescue Committee

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is a global leader in humanitarian assistance that helps people affected by conflict and disaster to survive, recover and regain control of their future. The IRC currently works in 42 countries around the world and 26 cities in the U.S. The IRC in Missoula is a community-based organization whose primary focus is the resettlement of refugees to the Missoula community. Since 2016, IRC Missoula has helped to resettle nearly 180 refugees in Missoula. The IRC welcomes refugees to the community in an effort for them to start their lives anew and rebuild their livelihoods. Visit for more information.

About New American Economy

New American Economy (NAE) brings together more than 500 Republican, Democratic and Independent mayors and business leaders who support immigration reforms that will help create jobs for Americans today. Coalition members include mayors of more than 35 million people nationwide and business leaders of companies that generate more than $1.5 trillion and employ more than 4 million people across all sectors of the economy, from Agriculture to Aerospace, Hospitality to High Tech and Media to Manufacturing. Learn more at

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…