Immigrants Contribute Greatly to Georgia’s Economy

By Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, Special for  USDR

The growing community of foreign-born Georgians is giving a powerful boost to the state’s economy and  finances.

That is the key conclusion of a new Georgia Budget and Policy Institute report that finds immigrants make vital contributions as Main Street entrepreneurs, specialized workers and as  taxpayers.

Nearly one in 10 Georgians today was born outside of the United States and one in five under the age of 18 has at least one immigrant parent. These newcomers play an essential role in ensuring Georgia remains an attractive state with a strong economy and high quality of  life.

“It’s a common misconception that immigrants play a one-dimensional role as manual laborers,” said Wesley Tharpe, the report’s author and a GBPI senior policy analyst. “The reality is foreign-born Georgians are opening Main Street businesses at above-average rates, filling high-priority needs in our workforce and contributing significant tax revenue in the  process.”

The GBPI report documents three important ways that immigrants will continue to play an important role in Georgia’s  economy.

  • Immigrant entrepreneurs enliven Georgia Main Streets. Foreign-born Georgians own an estimated 31 percent of Main Street businesses in the state, although they account for just 10 percent of the population. Main Street businesses are small enterprises like restaurants, general stores and clothing shops that provide everyday goods and services and help give communities their local character.
  • Immigrant workers sustain a cross section of Georgia’s economy. Foreign-born talent is essential to the success of both white-collar and blue-collar industries in Georgia, including health care, technology, skilled trades, hospitality and agriculture. Workers born outside the United States account for an estimated 23 percent of Georgia’s doctors, 26 percent of software developers, 28 percent of skilled construction tradesmen such as carpenters and plumbers and 42 percent of farm laborers.
  • Immigrant taxpayers contribute to Georgia’s bottom line. As immigrants start businesses, buy homes, earn wages and spend disposable income at local businesses, they generate considerable state and local tax revenue regardless of citizenship status.Georgia immigrants as a whole contributed nearly $1.8 billion in state and local taxes in 2012, the most recent year available.  Even undocumented Georgians contributed an estimated $352 million in state and local taxes in 2012, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

Download the full report.

SOURCE Georgia Budget and Policy  Institute

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