Louisville Uses New Research to Inform Immigrant-inclusive COVID-19 Relief Measures

New Research from New American Economy shows that immigrants in Louisville play an outsize role in critical industries, making up over 25 percent of all Food Processing workers and 9.1 percent of all Restaurant and Food Services workers in 2018.

Louisville, KY– New research from New American Economy (NAE) released today in partnership with Louisville’s Office for Globalization highlights how immigrants are both essential to Louisville’s rapid response efforts and especially vulnerable due to gaps in our federal relief package, language access barriers, and increased risks of infection associated with frontline and essential work.

Louisville is one of twelve communities that received NAE research to inform culturally sensitive emergency response measures that ensure all residents are included, regardless of immigration status. Louisville’s customized research report highlights the demographic nuances of the metro area’s immigrant population and will inform the advocacy, development, and implementation of inclusive local emergency responses.

Key findings from this report include:

  • Immigrants make significant economic contributions to the economy. In 2018, immigrants in the Louisville metro area paid $465.8 million in federal taxes and $236.2 million in state and local taxes, leaving them with $1.8 billion in spending power.
  • Immigrants serve in essential industries and carry out vital roles that keep Louisville functioning but put them at higher risk of infection. Despite making up just 5.7 percent of the metro area’s residents in 2018, immigrants comprise 25.5 percent of all Food Processing workers and 9.1 percent of all Restaurant and Food Services workers in Louisville.
  • Immigrants play an important role in Louisville as job creators but are concentrated in industries that are especially vulnerable to the economic recession caused by COVID-19. Immigrants make up 12.3 percent of business owners in Construction and 11.8 percent of business owners in General Services, including personal services like laundry, barber, and repair shops.
  • Culturally sensitive and language accessible emergency materials are in demand. In 2018, 23.5 percent of immigrants, or 16,773, living in Louisville had limited English language proficiency. Among them, the top four languages spoken at home other than English were: Spanish (59.7 percent), Dravidian (6.0 percent), Vietnamese (5.5 percent), and Chinese (2.8 percent).

“The immigrant communities in Louisville have long played a vital role in the development and growth of our city and they continue to do so today. This new report from the New American Economy quantifies the contribution of our immigrant communities and helps us to identify gaps so we can better focus on addressing their unique needs during times of crisis,” said Mayor Greg Fischer.

“The immigrant population is essential to keeping Louisville running, yet especially vulnerable to gaps in our social safety nets,” said Mo Kantner, Director of State and Local Initiatives at New American Economy. “This new NAE research will support efforts by the local community to work quickly and innovatively to fill critical gaps in federal programs and ensure that response efforts reach all residents of Louisville.”

Read the full research report here.

About Louisville’s Office for Globalization

Housed within Louisville Forward, the city’s integrated approach to economic and community development, the Office for Globalization was established by Mayor Greg Fischer in 2011 to help Louisville compete in an international and multicultural world by empowering immigrants to seize economic, educational and cultural opportunities. Working with partners from the social service, education, government and business sectors, the Office for Globalization offers programs, resources and a cross-sector platform to support foreign-born entrepreneurship, assist job-seekers, inform communities, celebrate cultures, train community leaders, and get the word out to those seeking the great quality of life that Louisville provides.

Visit louisvilleky.gov/government/globalization to learn more.

About New American Economy

New American Economy (NAE) is a bipartisan research and advocacy organization founded to educate, empower and support policymakers, influencers, and citizens across the country that see the economic and social benefits of a smart approach to immigration reform. NAE has created a coalition of civic, business, and cultural leaders who span the political spectrum and represent all 50 states. NAE makes the case for smart immigration reform in four ways: 1) we use powerful research to demonstrate how immigration impacts our economy, 2) we organize champions at the grassroots and influencer levels to build support for immigration, 3) we partner with state and local leaders to advocate for policies that recognize the value immigrants add locally, and 4) we show immigrant contributions to American culture through film, food, art, sports, comedy, and more.

Visit www.newamericaneconomy.org/ to learn more.

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…