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New Data Shows Houston’s Immigrants Generate More than a Quarter of the Area’s GDP

Immigrants in Houston pay $12.7 billion in taxes every year

HOUSTON, TX – New data from New American Economy (NAE) shows that immigrants are responsible for more than 26 percent of the Houston metro area’s GDP. The report, which analyzes Census data from 2016, looks at immigrant contributions to Houston’s workforce, tax base, and major industries. The report was released at the Future of Immigration in Houston, hosted by the Baker Institute’s Mexico Center at Rice University, NAE, and the Center for Houston’s Future. At this conference, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, and representatives from local and national organizations addressed how Houston can take a lead role in the national immigration conversation. As a border state with a large and growing immigrant population, Texas is dramatically affected by federal immigration policies.

The report shows that immigrants in Houston contribute billions in taxes each year, including $9.2 billion in federal taxes and $3.5 billion in state and local taxes. The foreign-born also play an essential role in bolstering the Houston workforce. Though Houston’s foreign-born residents make up 23.3 percent of the metro’s overall population, they represent 30 percent of its working-age population and 30.6 percent of its employed labor force. Immigrants in Houston also help fill labor shortages in the Houston market and support key industries. More than fifty percent of construction workers are foreign-born, and 31.9 percent of workers in manufacturing are foreign-born. And Texas currently faces a shortage in STEM workers across the state — there are more than 13 open positions for every one unemployed worker. Meanwhile, immigrants account for more than a third of Texas’ STEM workers.

See the full report, New Americans in Houston, here.

“These findings show that immigrants are not only critical to Houston’s community, but to its economy as well,” said John Feinblatt, President of New American Economy. “As important consumers, taxpayers, homeowners, and entrepreneurs, it’s clear that their success is Houston’s success.”

The report also finds:

  • 4 percent of employed immigrants in Houston were entrepreneurs in 2016. That year, they generated $3.2 billion in business income.
  • In 2016, immigrants in the Houston metro area contributed $5 billion to Social Security and $1.4 billion to Medicare.
  • Houston is home to almost 100,000 (96,669) DACA-eligible immigrants.

In the past week, a coalition of over 50 Texas business leaders and associations launched Texans for Economic Growth, which is dedicated to recognizing and supporting the positive impact immigrants have on the Texas economy as business owners, taxpayers, and consumers. With its launch, the Coalition partnered with the Texas Business Immigration Coalition (TBIC) to release the Texas Compact on Immigration, a set of principles signed by more than 70 Texas business leaders and groups to call for smart immigration policies at the federal level as well as statewide policies that recognize the valuable contributions immigrants make to the state. Houston members include Amegy Bank of Texas, Chamberlin Roofing and Waterproofing, Community Health Choice, Financial Casualty & Surety, Inc, Foster LLP, MAREK, Myron Steves, TxSIP, Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Lawn Management Company, Inc (LMC), Fort Bend County Chamber of Commerce, TAS Commercial Concrete, Legacy Community Health, and Bestway Oilfield, Inc, in addition to many statewide business organizations that represent Houston-area companies like the Texas Association of Business and the Texas Business Leadership Council.

Find the Compact 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…