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Report: Immigrants Punch Above Their Weight In WA Economy

"Welcome at SEA" by bfishadow is licensed by CC BY 2.0
A new report from the Partnership for a New American Economy shows that immigrants in Washington make outsized contributions to the state's economy as workers, entrepreneurs and taxpayers.

Immigrants in Washington make outsized contributions to the state’s economy, according to a new report from a national coalition that promotes immigration reform.

On Wednesday morning, local business leaders and immigrant advocates presented "The Contributions of New Americans in Washington," which detailed the economic impact of the state's immigrants. 

Two numbers in the report surprised Maud Daudon, president and CEO of the Seattle Chamber of Commerce. First, was the $8.1 billion that immigrants paid in local and federal taxes in 2014.

"That's a big number, and that's an important number to think about," Daudon said.

The second was the share of entrepreneurs in Washington who are immigrants: 18 percent, according to the report.

"Meaning that they bring that drive, that energy, that fresh thinking," Daudon said. "And they help us position ourselves globally to compete against all the other parts of the world that would love to have the jobs and the prosperity we have here in Washington."

There are nearly 930,000 immigrants living in Washington, 13 percent of the state's residents. But immigrants make up 17 percent of the employed population, according to the report.

Michael Schutzler, president of the Washington Technology Industry Association, emphasized the role of immigrants not just as workers, but also as job creators, especially in the technology sector.

"It's largely thanks to the immigrants who came here, started companies, created really powerful tech companies, who then hire lots of Washingtonians," Schutzler said.

The report also discusses immigrants' spending power, their roles in the agricultural sector and the push for visas and naturalization.

The report comes from the Partnership for a New American Economy, which released similar reports for each state and the District of Columbia. 

A Seattle native and former KNKX intern, Simone Alicea spent four years as a producer and reporter at KNKX. She earned her Bachelor's of Journalism from Northwestern University and covered breaking news for the Chicago Sun-Times. During her undergraduate career, she spent time in Cape Town, South Africa, covering metro news for the Cape Times.