Immigration and the Economy

“The lesson of these 236 years is clear – immigration makes America stronger. Immigration makes us more prosperous. And immigration positions America to lead in the 21st century.”

President Obama, July 4, 2012


One of the best things about immigration reform: it's going to make the economy a lot better.

It’s clear commonsense immigration reform is good for the economy as a whole. Don’t take our word for it — study after study has shown that commonsense immigration reform will strengthen the economy, spur innovation and increase US trade and exports.

Fixing our broken immigration system would increase America’s GDP.

GDP and Immigration icon

A stronger GDP means a better standard of living for Americans.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that immigration reform would increase real Gross Domestic Product relative to current law projections by 3.3 percent in 2023 and 5.4 percent in 2033 – an increase of roughly $700 billion in 2023 and $1.4 trillion in 2033 in today’s dollars.


Immigrant-owned small businesses mean more jobs and a boost in demand for local goods.

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Immigrants start small businesses.

According to the Partnership for a New American Economy, immigrants started 28 percent of all new business in 2011.

Immigrant-owned businesses create jobs for American workers.

According to the Fiscal Policy Institute, small businesses owned by immigrants employed an estimated 4.7 million people in 2007, and these small businesses generated more than $776 billion in revenue annually.

Immigrants boost demand for local consumer goods.

According to the 2010 American Community Survey, immigrants earned a total of $1.1 trillion, and the Immigration Policy Center estimates that the purchasing power of Latinos and Asians, many of whom are immigrants, alone will reach $1.5 trillion and $775 billion, respectively, by 2015.

More than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or a child of immigrants. According to the Partnership for a New American Economy these companies employ more than 10 million people worldwide and generate annual revenue of $4.2 trillion.

Ensure the next great breakthroughs in technology and medicine are developed in the United States by attracting and retaining the best and brightest students.

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Immigrants innovate as scientists and engineers.

According to the National Survey of College Graduates, immigrants represent 29 percent of scientists. They also represent 50 percent of PhDs working in math and computer science occupations and 57 percent of PhDs working in engineering occupations.

Immigrants develop cutting-edge technologies and companies.

According to a paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research, immigration was responsible for one third of the explosive growth in patenting per capita in the 1990s, and these innovations contributed to increasing U.S GDP by 2.4 percent. According to the National Venture Capital Association, immigrants have started 25 percent of public U.S. companies that were backed by venture capital investors. This list includes Google, eBay, Yahoo!, Sun Microsystems, and Intel.

Immigrant scientist and engineers positively impact wages.

According to a study at the University of California – Davis, a 1 percent increase in the share of foreign scientist and engineers in the U.S. workforce would increase the wages of native college-educated workers by 4 to 6 percent, and have no significant effect on the wages and employment of native non-college-educated workers.

Fixing our broken immigration system is critical to bilateral trade and U.S. exports.

Investments to strengthen the border and facilitate more efficient trade with both Mexico and Canada will strengthen the U.S. economy. Canada and Mexico are our first and third trading partners in the world, respectively, together accounting for nearly one-third of U.S. exports in 2012 and more than $3.1 billion two-way trade per day in 2013. An increase in exports means more jobs right here in the U.S.

Fixing our broken immigration system will help increase international travel and
tourism to America.

Travel and tourism represent the largest service-export industry in the U.S., setting a record $180.7 billion in exports and supporting 8 million jobs in 2013. The economic impact and importance of travel and tourism will continue to grow in the coming years as emerging economies around the world experience an increase in their vacationing middle classes. China, Brazil, and India alone represent approximately 40 percent of the world’s population and by 2017 the number of travelers from those countries is expected to increase by 259 percent, 83 percent, and 47 percent respectively.

Download Economics of Commonsense Immigration Reform Fact Sheet (PDF)

View the Report: The Economic Benefits of Fixing Our Broken Immigration System



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Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country.

President Barack Obama
January 21, 2013