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Posted on: March 12, 2020

Immigrants Contribute nearly $60 Billion to Northern Virginia’s Economy, New Report Shows

Report Cover

Northern Virginia Regional Commission, Community Foundation for Northern Virginia and New American Economy Release first One Region Report on Economic Impact of Immigrants on Northern Virginia

Fairfax, VA – Immigrants are major contributors to Northern Virginia’s economy. A new report from the Northern Virginia Regional Commission and Community Foundation for Northern Virginia, in partnership with the New American Economy, finds that immigrants in Northern Virginia contributed $57.7 billion to the local economy in 2017 or 25.7 percent of the region’s $224.9 billion GDP. 

The One Region Report is a comprehensive picture of new Americans in Northern Virginia. It highlights the size and rapid growth in the immigrant population in the region and their impact on the local economy including injecting more money into local businesses, property markets, and municipal budgets as consumers, homebuyers, and taxpayers.

“Immigrants are a vital part of the economic and social fabric of Northern Virginia. Their success is our success, and we must continue to be a welcoming community for all to ensure our long-term prosperity,” said P. David Tarter, Chairman of the Northern Virginia Regional Commission and Mayor of the City of Falls Church.

Immigrants widen and deepen the labor market with a vast array of skills and levels of expertise. They help businesses, farms, and factories fill workforce gaps at all levels of the labor market, allowing companies to meet market demands and expand their operations, which leads to more job creation.

“As we see the Northern Virginia region continue to grow, the need for workers in industries like STEM and construction will continue to increase,” said Mo Kantner, Associate Director of State and Local Initiatives at New American Economy. “By recognizing the unique range of skills that foreign-born residents bring, the region is making an important investment in its future.”

Northern Virginia’s immigrant population is diverse, growing in number, and is a major contributor to the region’s economy. They emigrate from El Salvador, India, Korea, Vietnam, Ethiopia, Mexico and other countries seeking a better life for themselves and their families.

“America offered me all these different opportunities. I stand on shoulders of great mentors. Americans are very generous, “said Zuzana Steen, Academic and Community Relations Director, Micron Technology, Inc.

As Northern Virginia’s economy continues to expand, immigrants living in the region are an important part of the region’s economy and future. 

“We’re excited to show, with data, the invaluable contribution immigrants make to the Northern Virginia region,” said Bernard Mustafa, Chairman of the Board of the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia. “Immigrants help build vibrant and culturally diverse communities and are major contributors to our economic success at all levels, as workers, business owners, taxpayers and consumers.” 

Key findings:  

Immigrants who settle in Northern Virginia are well educated and bring with them varying levels of work and educational experience.  In 2013 – 2017, 44.5 percent of immigrants in Northern Virginia age 25 and older had at least a bachelor’s degree and 20.9 percent had an advanced degree, either a master’s, professional or doctoral degree. This is much higher than the proportion of immigrants with a bachelor’s degree or higher in the U.S. at 31.2 percent.  

Immigrants are job creators. In Northern Virginia, immigrant entrepreneurs – those who work for their own businesses, incorporated or not – are making their mark locally. In total, there were 47,837 immigrant entrepreneurs or 42.5 percent of all entrepreneurs in the region.  

Northern Virginia’s immigrant population is well-suited to maintaining and expanding the region’s labor force.  In Northern Virginia, less than two-thirds, or 61.6 percent of the U.S.-born population are of working age—between 16 and 64 years old, the range considered to be working age by the Department of Labor. Meanwhile, more than four out of five, or 83.9 percent of the immigrant population in the region are of working age. While immigrants make up 27.4 percent of the overall population, they make up 34.0 percent of the region’s working-age population.

Immigrants are driving population growth in Northern Virginia.  Of the 238,000 people who settled in Northern Virginia between 2008 - 2012 and 2013-2017, almost 109,000 were immigrants. The number of immigrants grew from 561,285 in 2008 - 2012 to 670,272 in 2013-2017, an increase of 19.4 percent, accounting for 27.4 percent of the overall population. 

Immigrants in Northern Virginia have above average rates of naturalization.  More than half, or 51.3 percent, of all immigrants in the region have earned their U.S. citizenship, a rate higher than the national average of 48 percent.

The full report can be downloaded at: https://www.novaregiondashboard.com/

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