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Nov-30-2009 16:42printcomments

Immigrants Boost Portland's Economy in Proportion to Their Numbers, Study Finds

Immigrants constitute 13 percent of professional specialists such as doctors and lawyers and 13.8 percent of technicians in areas such as health care, engineering and science.

Hispanic workers power west coast agriculture
Hispanic workers power west coast agriculture.
Salem-News.com photo by Bonnie King

(SILVERTON, Ore.) - As is the case throughout the nation's largest cities, immigrants contribute to Portland's economy roughly in proportion to their share of the population, according to a study released today by the Fiscal Policy Institute.

"The study should be required reading for all Oregonians, as it makes clear just how much of the economic growth of the state's largest metropolitan area is due to immigrants," said Joy Margheim, policy analyst with the Oregon Center for Public Policy, who examined the Fiscal Policy Institute's study.

The New York-based research institute examined the economic impact of all foreign-born workers, including undocumented immigrants, in the nation's 25 largest metropolitan areas. They concluded that "immigration and economic growth go hand in hand."

In the Portland metro area, immigrants constitute about 12 percent of the population and generate about 12 percent of the economic output, according to the study. That roughly one-to-one ratio appeared fairly consistently throughout the 25 large metro areas studied.

The Fiscal Policy Institute shared with OCPP additional data concerning the Portland metro area not included in their report. That data offer a more detailed picture of Portland's immigrant labor force, which spans the full range of occupations.

Immigrants make up a substantial share of Portland's workers in well-paying occupations, where they typically earn more than their U.S.-born counterparts, according to Margheim. They constitute 13 percent of professional specialists such as doctors and lawyers and 13.8 percent of technicians in areas such as health care, engineering and science.

At the same time, immigrants disproportionately fill Portland's low-paying jobs, Margheim said. She noted, for example, that while immigrants make up 14 percent of Portland's labor force, they constitute 27.3 percent of workers in food preparation services and 49.7 percent of workers in farming, forestry and agriculture.

In these lower-paying occupations, immigrants earn less than U.S.-born workers in the same occupation, the Fiscal Policy Institute's data for Portland showed. In 2005-07 immigrants working full-time in Portland's food service industry, for instance, had median annual earnings of $15,786, compared to $20,556 for U.S.-born workers.

Those numbers speak in favor of comprehensive immigration reform, according to Francisco Lopez, executive director of CAUSA, Oregon's immigrant rights coalition.

"A path to citizenship for undocumented workers would allow them to contribute even more to Portland and Oregon's economy," he said. "It would make undocumented immigrants less vulnerable to exploitation, lifting the bar for all workers, and provide the security needed to start a business. Everyone would win."

The Fiscal Policy Institute report, Immigrants and the Economy: Contribution of Immigrant Workers to the Country's 25 Largest Metropolitan Areas, is available online.


Source: The Oregon Center for Public Policy, a non-partisan research institute that does in-depth research and analysis on budget, tax and economic issues.

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Texan December 3, 2009 12:50 pm (Pacific time)

These reports that say how great illegals are for the states almost always neglect to mention the negative impact they have at the local level. Just ask anyone who's taxes are going sky high in supporting these people.

Brittanicus December 2, 2009 4:39 pm (Pacific time)

Daily we hear that illegal immigrants are here to stay and that it would be almost unfeasible to deport the 12 million people? The question to answer is there—JUST--12 million or is the American public being sold a bill of goods? The majority of bloggers believe the answer is somewhere between 20 and 30 million? Yet even that is a conservative number? We cannot bus them out as this legal route is impossible; if not so expensive to even conceive? But bloggers including myself have for over a year pummeled the Internet that E-Verify, the illegal immigrant restriction program can extracts major numbers from the mainstream workplace. As always huge influences from businesses, politicians and open border organizations whose scheme is mostly monetary gain have incessantly pushed into silence the growing attention to this computer program. Popularity has increased throughout America, as more and more businesses have found its operation easy and practical. Why hold a job summit for Americans, when you will not eject the illegal immigrants squatting here that would open jobs for the less skilled? The US government has now realized the importance to funding the program, even though Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) and Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) have unified to crush its importance to this nations working force. Too many highly positioned Democrats and even Republicans have destabilized immigration enforcement for too long. Although only funded for a further 3 years E-Verify is being accepted as a way to bring more legal residents and citizens into the job market and severing illegal labor. The momentum of E-Verify will not stop now as bloggers have infiltrated every media outlet from the West to the East coast. Democrats have not entered the main battle lines to push for what they dress-up as Comprehensive Immigration reform? But most Americans are not fooled, knowing full well this is another word--BLANKET AMNESTY? The previous AMNESTY in 1986 was disguised enough, to promote less attention to the act. Because the majority of the national press is holding back the exact truth, universal bloggers are supplementing the real facts. Most pro-sovereignty groups have not the money-backing of pariah businesses groups, grants of earmarks from corrupt lawmakers or donations from so called tax exempt foundations and organized church. So proponents of Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano and others are limited to grabbing the public attention to the consequences of AMNESTY. Just today NUMBERSUSA has sent out a warning to their members stating “Massive, Unchecked Immigration Will DESTROY Our Future! But It Doesn't Have to Occur if We Act Now! For the first 200 years of our country's history, about 250,000 immigrants migrated to the U.S. But since 1990, 2 MILLION legal and illegal immigrants are migrating to the U.S. PER YEAR. The current U.S. population of 310 million will soar past half a billion around mid-century if immigration is not reduced. We all support immigration in moderation. Many of our friends and co-workers are immigrants themselves. But too much of anything can become--DESTRUCTIVE. Tell Congress that a half-billion is far too many! We already have enough congestion, traffic, overcrowded schools and overburdened healthcare systems as it is. Join with 932,225 citizens who make their voices heard through NumbersUSA, America's largest-member immigration-reduction organization.” Amendments to the 1986 act, could import a refined number of highly skilled workers that are required? But not lesser volumes of discount unskilled labor that cannot be recruited from the American people, who are many in our population. Other powerful developed nations can attract highly professional focused workers, without the flotsam that we end up eventually subsidizing. If you remember the last stimulus package was to give jobs to Americans, but as many 300.000 was artfully given to illegal workers? Don’t procrastinate on this outrageous 2009-2010 Amnesty, as we cannot even feed, house and offer substantial health care to our own poor? We are a debtor to China and other countries, when we once were an influential lender. While our free trade Globalist agreements are completely out of control and corporate owners outsource and in-source cheap labor and in many cases inferior trade goods. INFORM YOUR SENATORS AND CONGRESSMAN/WOMAN AT 202-224-312. NOT TO APPROVE ANOTHER AMNESTY OR FACE THE CONSEQUENCES IN THE VOTING BOOTH? MAKE AN EXAMPLE OF SEN. HARRY REID NEXT YEAR AND NANCY PELOSI? Google—NUMBERSUSA FOR MORE FACTS, UNMENTIONABLE EXPENDITURES, ACORN FRAUD, THE POLICE 287 (g) DETAINER AND THE IMMIGRATION GRADES OF POLITICIANS. Read more unadulterated truths at JUDICIAL WATCH, ALIPAC and CAPSWEB.

Jack@fairus December 2, 2009 5:50 am (Pacific time)

If you can hire an illegal alien worker for $15,786 or a US worker for $20,556, who is going to get the job washing dishes? Amnesty for the workers would just perpetuate the harm to US workers.

Jean D Queen December 1, 2009 8:48 pm (Pacific time)

$15,786 per year is the mean income. Yet to educate one kid in school cost the taxpayers $9,000 per year, over half their pay. What would be an illegals share in taxes on such an income would be allot less than $5,000. Just educating one kid would cost the taxpayer more than they contribute. Numbers don't lie unless they're written in a sob story like this. Spin, spin, spin.

XessQ December 1, 2009 5:03 pm (Pacific time)

the article does mention though that when the "immigrant" is in a high paying PROFFESSION like doctors or lawyers (which kind of leaves out an ILLEGAL immigrant) that they make more then a non-immigrant. So that would mean that if the "average" immigrant contributes X to the economy, then the LEGAL immigrants are actually contributing more then X, so therefore the ILLEGAL immigrants are contributing less then X So it appears that the ILLEGAL immigrants are actually a drain on the economy.....

Ralph Jull December 1, 2009 1:33 pm (Pacific time)

My conclusions differ on the benefit of low priced labor help to the economy from illegal immigrants. They not only get paid less by law breaking employers, it puts citizens and legal immigrants from working. We have more costs through social services, possibly including unemployment and crime. This article supports the Supply Side Economics and defacto, the Devine Right of Kings (rich). All bad policy for the middle class and poor.

Ali December 1, 2009 1:15 pm (Pacific time)

This article implies that immigration causes prosperity when it's far more likely that immigrants, legal or illegal, go where economic conditions are already favorable. Isn't that why they left their home countries, after all? And if immigrants are so beneficial to these communities, then why aren't their home countries in better shape?

LegalEagle December 1, 2009 12:28 am (Pacific time)

Another Open Border supporter trying to convince citizens of their BS. Check Out non-partisan NumbersUSA if you really want to know how unbridled Immigration (Two Million a year,Legal and Illegal) is effecting our country.

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.