SPOKANE, WA – A new report released today by New American Economy (NAE), in partnership with the City of Spokane and the Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce, underscores the critical role that immigrants in Spokane are playing in filling the region’s labor demands, starting small businesses, and supporting the local economy through their consumer spending power.
Between 2014 and 2019 the Spokane population grew by 3 percent, with the immigrant population decreasing by 16.6 percent. Despite this, immigrants and refugees in the City of Spokane held $307.6 million in spending power, and paid over $79 million in federal taxes and $36 million in state and local taxes in 2019 alone. Despite making up 5.6 percent of the city’s overall population, immigrants and refugees represent 12.7 percent of manufacturing workers, 10.4 percent of hospitality workers, and 8.7 percent of educational services workers.
The new report was awarded to Spokane as part of the Gateways for Growth Challenge, a competitive opportunity for localities to receive research support and/or technical assistance from New American Economy and Welcoming America to improve immigrant inclusion in their communities. The City of Spokane, the Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce, and New American Economy presented the new report at a community forum in recognition of the many organizations that support immigrants in the region.
This report will be leveraged in the region’s efforts to attract and retain global talent. Following the launch of the report, the city and partners listed above will be hosting a conversation on how to make the community more welcoming and supportive for immigrant, refugee and marginalized communities.
“The Gateways for Growth opportunity has allowed the City to use actual data to begin our conversation with community partners so that we create an equitable and inclusive recovery,” said Spokane City Council President Breean Beggs. “Good policy is built on good data and the understanding that in Spokane, we all belong.”
“All families need access to equitable employment and entrepreneurial opportunities to thrive,” said Amber Waldref, Director The ZoNE at Northeast Community Center. “The ZoNE is committed to working with partners throughout Spokane to remove barriers and create inclusive spaces with our immigrant and refugee neighbors.”
“As we see the Spokane region continue to grow, the need for workers will continue to increase,” said Mo Kantner, Director of State and Local Initiatives at New American Economy. “By welcoming foreign-born residents with a unique range of skills, the region can make an important investment in its future.”
“Spokane’s efforts to pair data with substantive conversations demonstrate its commitment to community-driven immigrant inclusion,” said Christina Pope, Senior Network Director at Welcoming America. “By harnessing the full talents and potential of immigrant residents, the entire community of Spokane benefits.”
The new research report, New Americans in Spokane finds:
- Immigrants and refugees are helping Spokane meet its labor force demands. As of 2019, immigrants and refugees made up 5.6 percent of the area’s overall population with 77.5 percent of working age, as compared to 64.2 percent of the U.S.-born population, making immigrants 20.7 percent more likely to be of working age than their U.S.-born counterparts.
- Immigrants and refugees are helping the region meet its rising labor needs in STEM and key industries. Immigrants and refugees accounted for 7 percent of the region’s science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) workers, 12.7 percent of manufacturing workers, 8.7 percent of educational services workers, and 7.8 percent of healthcare workers — all critical industries that have been essential during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Immigrants play a particularly significant role in the region’s entrepreneurs. Despite making up 5.6 percent of the overall population, immigrants represented 6.6 percent of the entrepreneurs in Spokane in 2019.
- Immigrants in the Spokane region are making substantial economic contributions. In 2019, immigrants contributed $1.8 billion to Spokane County’s GDP, or 6.1 percent of the total, despite making up just 5.2 percent of the population.
Read the full research brief here.