Immigrant Contributions to Pittsburgh Region Advance the Economy


Sarah Roy, New American Economy,

Pittsburgh, PA – Today, Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto and Allgheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald announced new research from New American Economy showing that the 82,308 foreign-born residents of the region have a significant impact on southwestern Pennsylvania’s economy through high rates of workforce participation in key industries, tax contributions, and spending power.

“This report shows that immigrants advance the economy of the Pittsburgh region,” said John Feinblatt, Chairman of New American Economy. “Immigrants work in Pittsburgh’s top industries like manufacturing, education, and healthcare; strengthen the local tax base; and start businesses that create jobs in Allegheny County and across the region.”

“Pittsburgh was built by a skilled, hardworking, and thriving immigrant community. This report is a great reminder of how vital the growing immigrant community is to our region’s future success and stability, ” said Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto.

“This report shows, again, what we’ve known in our region for quite some time – that immigrants and foreign-born residents play an important part in our region’s economy,” said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. “Our region is a growing one with opportunity for everyone. Embracing those individuals who are newly calling Allegheny County home is just one more way to recognize their role in our continued growth and development.”

The report, “Advancing the Pittsburgh Region,” finds:

  • Immigrants contributed $6.8 billion to Allegheny County’s GDP, as well as $217 million in state and local taxes.
  • Immigrants in Allegheny County held $1.8 billion in spending power, 6.3 percent of the county’s total spending power, with Asian immigrants alone contributing $912 million and Latino immigrants contributing $108 million.
  • Between 2000 and 2014, the growth in the foreign-born population increased the total housing value in Allegheny County by more than $1 billion.
  • Foreign-born residents are more likely to start new businesses than the U.S.-born in Allegheny County. In 2014, while only about 1 in 15 U.S.-born workers was self-employed, 1 in 10 foreign-born residents in Allegheny County was self-employed, higher than the national average of about 1 in 13.
  • In Allegheny County in 2012, businesses owned by Latino residents had $248 million in sales, and 1,216 paid employees. In the City of Pittsburgh, such businesses had $109 million in sales and 268 paid employees.
  • In the fall of 2014, the City of Pittsburgh hosted 8,857 students on temporary resident visas. These international students boosted the city’s economy by supporting 5,624 local jobs and contributing $338 million in spending.
  • Because of the role immigrants play in the workforce, helping companies keep jobs on U.S. soil, it is estimated that immigrants in Allegheny County helped create or preserve 2,893 local manufacturing jobs that would have otherwise vanished or moved elsewhere.
  • The Pittsburgh region’s population slightly declined by 0.1 percent between 2009 and 2014, decreasing from 2,571,680 to 2,569,558. However, during this time the foreign-born population increased by 7.9 percent, from 76,286 to 82,308, helping offset this decline.
  • In 2014, a vast majority (83.5 percent) of the foreign-born population in Allegheny County had lived there for more than a year.

This report is released in conjunction with the announcement that Pittsburgh is one of 20 communities selected in the Gateways for Growth Challenge, an opportunity from NAE and Welcoming America that invited communities across the United States to apply for support for the development and implementation of multi-sector strategic plans for welcoming and integrating new Americans. Mayor Peduto’s Welcoming Pittsburgh initiative, the Economy League of Greater Pittsburgh – Allegheny Conference, and Allegheny County partnered together to apply for and support this opportunity. This report will allow officials to make a strong case to local employers that there is a need to grow and welcome a more diverse workforce.

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…