Immigrant Contributions to Washington's Economy - Report

One America Economic Report

Building Washington's Future: Immigrant Contributions to Our State's Economy

April 2009

This is the first report to focus on the immigrant contributions to the state's economy and outlines the role of immigrants in the work force and their direct contributions as taxpayers, consumers and workers in a variety of industries.

Some of the state's largest research and academic institutions and businesses, including the University of Washington and Microsoft, rely on H1-B visa workers. "This issue is particularly important here in the Northwest where we have a very robust agricultural center as well as a technology sector that is continuing to grow," said Renee Radcliffe Sinclair, Executive Director of Congressional & Public Affairs for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Washington's immigrants who own their own businesses contribute significantly to the number of jobs created and provide approximately $1.3 billion, or 9.8 percent, of the total state business income. In Washington, Asians and Hispanics own 5.7 percent and 2.2 percent of businesses, respectively. The contributions of Washington's immigrant work force support the need to invest in English Language Services, naturalization assistance and immigrant entrepreneurs. These investments are essential in an economic growth strategy in a struggling economy.

Also among its findings:

  • Immigrant-headed households, which represent 12.5 percent of all households in Washington, accounted for 13.2 percent of all taxes paid in 2007 - nearly $1.5 billion.
  • Except for Latinos, the report found that homes owned by members of immigrant groups in 2007 had a median home value above $300,000 - higher than the median for the state's U.S.-born homeowners.
  • Immigrant workers comprise 14.3 percent of Washington's labor force.
  • Illegal immigrants, while representing only 5 percent of the work force, account for more than one-third of the state's construction workers and about one-fifth of all hotel maids, painters and private home help.

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