New data shows Grand Rapids’ immigrants earned close to $2 billion in household income in 2017, an increase of more than $100 million in just one year

Immigrants were just 6.8 percent of Grand Rapids’ population but made up 13.3 percent of its manufacturing workers

New York Today New American Economy (NAE), a bipartisan research and advocacy organization focused on immigration, released new data highlighting the significant contributions immigrants make to Grand Rapids’ community and economy. The data shows that immigrants in Grand Rapids, Michigan are driving economic growth — the area’s immigrants took home close to $2 billion in household income in 2017, an increase of more than $100 million in just one year. Immigrants are also supporting Grand Rapids’ biggest industries as workers. In 2017, Grand Rapids’ immigrants made up more than one-third of the workforce in agriculture, forestry, fishing, and the manufacturing industry. 

The research is part of NAE’s Map the Impact, an interactive map that quantifies immigrant contributions at the national, state, metro area, and congressional district levels, and across industries. 

Key findings for the Grand Rapids metro area include: 

  • Immigrants pay millions in taxes and hold significant spending power. In 2017, immigrants in Grand Rapids paid more than $460 million in federal, state, and local taxes and held nearly $1.4 billion in spending power, supporting local businesses.
  • Immigrants help fill workforce gaps. In 2017, more than 80 percent of immigrants in Grand Rapids were of working age, compared to 63.8 percent of U.S.-born residents, and helped to fill employment gaps across industries.
  • Major industries in Grand Rapids depend on immigrant workers. Despite making up just 6.8 percent of the area’s population, Grand Rapids immigrants made up 35.7 percent of agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting workers, 13.3 percent of manufacturing workers, and 8.7 percent of construction workers in 2017.
  • Immigrants could play a significant role in upcoming elections. Nearly 28,000 Grand Rapids’ immigrants were eligible to vote in 2017. For context, President Trump won the entire state of Michigan in 2016 by fewer than 11,000 votes.

“Immigrants have an outsize impact on the industries that serve as the backbone of Grand Rapids’ economy,” said Kate Brick, Director of State and Local Initiatives at New American Economy. “These findings reinforce why having a welcoming approach towards immigrants will benefit major aspects of Grand Rapids’ economy.” 

Map the Impact shows NAE analysis of the latest data from the 2017 American Communities Survey. You can find the new version of the Map 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…