FORT WAYNE, IN – Immigrants in Fort Wayne and Northeast Indiana accounted for 24.7 percent of overall population growth in the region between 2011 and 2016 according to a new report by New American Economy (NAE), in partnership with Welcoming Fort Wayne, the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, and the Associated Churches of Fort Wayne & Allen County. The report was launched today with a coordinated news release.
In addition to their financial contributions, the new report shows the role that the immigrant population in Northeast Indiana plays in the regional labor force, as well as their contributions to the region’s tax base. Though they account for 4.5 percent of the region’s overall population, immigrants represent 5.9 percent of the working-age population and 5.2 percent of its employed labor force. The report also shows that immigrants paid $161.3 million in taxes in 2016 including $104.4 million in federal taxes and $56.9 million in state and local taxes.
“As we drive to increase our regional population to one million by 2030, we know from the example of other cities that immigrants play an enormous role in filling our workforce, schools and tax rolls. Looking at the data in this report that almost 25 percent of our growth between 2011 and 2016 comes from immigrants underlines that conclusion,” said Michael Galbraith, Director of the Road to One Million at the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership.
“For hundreds of years, diverse peoples have come to call Northeast Indiana home. Fort Wayne’s European roots run deep, and without a rich immigration history, our community wouldn’t be what it is today. Newcomers continue to migrate to Northeast Indiana from all corners of the globe seeking a better life, and the data in this report substantiates what many of us believed to be true – that they’re critical to the economic vitality of our community. My hope is that professional research like this continues in order to deepen our understanding of a larger immigrant narrative in Northeast Indiana,” said Melissa Rinehart, Founding Chair of Welcoming Fort Wayne.
“Fort Wayne has a rich history where the faith communities and churches cared for and nurtured new foreign-born members into the community,” said Roger Reece, Executive Director of Associated Churches of Fort Wayne and Allen County. “The churches of Fort Wayne not only ministered to their spiritual life, but also preserved their ethnic identity, provided a place of socialization and education for their children, and helped them to adapt to this new American environment. It is a story of a pioneer community that wished to be known as ‘A city of Churches.’ Associated Churches of Fort Wayne and Allen County encourages the voices of our faith to speak again, to befriend, to care for, and nurture the strangers amongst us.”
“Fort Wayne knows firsthand how cities can use immigration to stoke the local economy,” said John Feinblatt, President of New American Economy. “The numbers show that across Northeast Indiana, immigrants help grow the tax base, drive demand, and create American jobs.”
The brief, New Americans in Fort Wayne and Northeast Indiana finds:
- Immigrants accounted for 24.7 percent of overall population growth in the region from 2011 to 2016. While the total population grew by 2.2 percent, the immigrant population increased by 13.3 percent.
- Foreign-born residents paid $161.3 million in taxes in Northeast Indiana in 2016. Immigrant households earned $634.1 million in income in 2016. Of that, $104.4 million went to federal taxes and $56.9 million went to state and local taxes, leaving them with $472.8 million in spending power.
- Despite making up just 4.5 percent of the overall population, immigrants played an outsize role in the employed labor force in 2016. Foreign-born workers represented 5.9 percent of Northeast Indiana’s working-age population and 5.2 percent of its employed labor force that year.
- Immigrants are overrepresented as entrepreneurs in the region.Despite making up only 4.5 percent of the population, immigrants accounted for 4.7 percent of all entrepreneurs in the region in 2016 and generated $26.2 million in business income that year.
- Immigrants play a critical role in several key industries in the region, including STEM fields. Foreign-born workers made up 7.1 percent of all workers in construction and 6.5 percent of workers in hospitality and recreation. They also made up 4.8 percent of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) workers, higher than their share of the population.
- Over 1,000 students enrolled in colleges and universities in the region during the fall of 2015 were temporary residents. These students supported 215 local jobs and contributed $36.1 million in spending in the 2016-17 academic year.
- Immigrants in Northeast Indiana were more likely than their U.S.-born counterparts to have an advanced degree in 2016. 9.3 percent of immigrants had an advanced degree, compared to 7.5 percent of the U.S.-born.
- Nearly half of immigrants in the region—41.5%, or nearly 12,000 individuals—were naturalized citizens in 2016.
Northeast Indiana 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.