How Immigrants Positively Affect the Business Community and the U.S. Economy

Immigrants have always been vital assets to the U.S. economy and contribute greatly to the nation’s total economic output and tax revenue. Economists have found that immigrants complement native-born workers and increase the standard of living for all Americans. Additionally, as consumers in local communities, immigrants create demand for small businesses and strengthen the economy. Immigrant entrepreneurs have also played a significant role in advancing technological innovation and creating businesses. Although immigrants’ economic contributions are significant, they could be even greater. If Congress enacts a legislative reform that includes a pathway to citizenship, then more unauthorized immigrants could participate in the formal economy.

Some of the most influential entrepreneurs in the United States are immigrants or children of immigrants. This is especially true in the tech industry.

In fact, more than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies in 2010 were founded by immigrants or their children. This includes both major companies from the past few decades—such as AT&T, Apple, and Google—and also older giants, such as McDonald’s, General Electric, and Bank of America. Fortune 500 companies are a tremendous part of the national economy; in particular, the 40 percent founded by immigrants or children of immigrants generated more than $1.7 trillion in revenue and employed 3.6 million people in the United States in 2010 alone.

Apart from immigrants’ contributions in big businesses, they have also made an impact as small-business entrepreneurs. Immigrants make up about 28 percent of small-business owners and are two times more likely to become entrepreneurs than the native-born population.

All immigrants, regardless of legal status, contribute to the American economy. The Social Security Administration estimates that unauthorized immigrants contribute a net of $13 billion in payroll taxes annually, which helps to strengthen the Social Security system. The gains that the country would realize from enacting legislation with a path to citizenship would be even greater than those from implementing DAPA and DACA.

Immigrants have historically played an important role in the building of the United States, and they continue to carry that legacy today.


Center for American Progress

Times Magazine / Business