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Three Things You Should Know … Economics & Immigration

National data shows that output in the economy is higher and grows faster with more immigrants. Here are three things you should know.

1. Immigrants have shaped the U.S. Economy

There are plenty of historical precedents and data that can be mined for a broader picture of how immigrants influence national innovation and economic growth.

A recent study by Petra Moser at NYU showed that like stones dropped into a pond, the immigrant scientists created ripples that widened as they spread. His team examined German Jewish chemists whose innovative output could be tracked using U.S. patent data from 1920 to 1970. The result? Patents jumped by over 30% in the fields that these immigrants entered after 1933. In some cases, patent production nearly doubled. Their native-born collaborators also became more inventive. Even the coinventors of the collaborators of these immigrants were energized, continuing to be significantly more productive into the 1950s and 1960s.

2. Immigrants are vital to the U.S. COVID-19 response

Immigrants make up a significant portion of the workforce affected by the crisis, including healthcare and service industries. Immigrant workers account for more than 65% of your coronavirus-response frontline healthcare workforce (29% physicians, 38% home health aides). They also represent sectors immediately affected by mass layoffs such as the service industry, in-home childcare, and the informal economy. Consequently, migrant workers contribute to the bedrock of our economic foundation and will be critical players in its rebound. The economic contraction along with health problems are exacerbated for many low wage immigrant workers because of limited access to relief programs and other services.

3. Immigrants play an essential role in the U.S. food supply chain

Like in many other industries, immigrants make a difference in what we eat. Immigrants feed America; about 2.1 million immigrants work in jobs growing, harvesting, processing, and selling food. Immigrants make up 22% of workers in the U.S. food supply chain playing an outsized role in food production.

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