New Research Shows Immigrants in Erie are Playing an Outsize Role in Several Key Industries, including 8.2 Percent of STEM, 6.8 Percent of Professional Services, and 6.3 Percent of Manufacturing

Immigrants paid over $261 million in total taxes, and held over $192 million in spending power.

Erie, PA – A new report released today by New American Economy in partnership with the city of Erie and Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership, underscores the critical role immigrants in Erie county and city play in the community’s labor force growth, STEM innovation, and business creation. Despite making up just 4.1 percent of Erie county’s population, immigrants accounted for 8.2 percent of the county’s STEM workers, and 4.9 percent of business owners. Immigrants are critical to addressing the county’s workforce shortages across the skills and education spectrum, with 74.4 percent of immigrants being of working age (ages 16-64) compared to 63.3 percent of their U.S.-born counterparts, and over 29 percent of immigrants holding a bachelor’s degree or higher.

The new report was awarded to Erie 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 Erie, the Mayor’s New American Council, the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership and New American Economy released the new report at the mayor’s press conference on Thursday, June 17, 2021 bringing together leaders across sectors to ensure that Erie welcomes and harnesses the potential of all its residents.

“Our foreign-born residents are making an enormous impact on our County economy.  We look forward to being able to use the report to make data-driven decisions,” said Mayor Schember of the City of Erie. “Thank you, (City of Erie New American Liaison) Niken Carpenter, and thanks to Gateways for Growth, New American Economy (NAE), Welcoming America, and James Grunke and Amy Murdock of the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership for your collaboration on this initiative.”

“This effort has given us critical insights into understanding our workforce and human capital. The findings of this report will help us craft a competitive workforce and inclusion strategy for a growing, vibrant economy,” said James Grunke, Erie Regional Chamber President and CEO.

“This new report reinforces why Erie’s efforts to welcome immigrants are a crucial component of its economic growth and recovery strategy,” said Mo Kantner, Director of State and Local Initiatives at New American Economy. “Immigrants are playing a critical role in revitalizing Erie’s local economy, broadening its tax base, and attracting growing industries.”

“As a Certified Welcoming place, the city of Erie continues to be an example for how communities can effectively harness the talent of immigrants to create greater prosperity for all residents,” said Christina Pope, Senior Network Director of Welcoming America. “We’re thrilled that the Gateways for Growth Challenge can be part of making Erie an even more welcoming place for the future.”

The new research report, New Americans in Erie County, finds:

  • Immigrants’ spending power has helped revitalize local businesses. Immigrants punch above their weight when it comes to their power as consumers. In 2019, they held $192.3 million in disposable income that can go towards buying homes, supporting small businesses, and reinvigorating the local economy. At the city-level, immigrants held $88.3 million in spending power, making up 6 percent of the all spending power in the city.
  • Immigrant households support federal social programs. The foreign-born contributed $25.1 million to Social Security and $6.4 million to Medicare in 2019.
  • Immigrants are helping the county meet its rising labor demand in the STEM sector. Despite making up just 4.1 percent of the overall population, immigrants represented 4.8 percent of the working-age population and 8.2 percent of the county STEM workers.
  • Immigrants in Erie County help create or preserve local manufacturing jobs. Because of the role immigrants play in the workforce helping companies keep jobs on U.S. soil, immigrants in the regions helped create or preserve approximately 500 jobs that would have otherwise vanished or moved elsewhere.
  • Immigrants are bringing much-needed talent. In 2019, nearly 30 percent of the immigrants ages 25 and up held at least a bachelor’s degree, compared with 27.7 percent of the U.S.-born population in Erie County. About 16.1 percent of the immigrants held an advanced degree, compared with 9.8 percent of the U.S.-born population in the county.

Read the full research brief 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…