Immigration and Economic Growth in the U.S., 2000-2015

Immigration and Economic Growth in the U.S., 2000-2015

The Issue:

Concerns regarding immigration during the presidential election revolved around undocumented immigrants entering through the U.S.-Mexico border. This focus does not take into account a shift towards more educated immigrants over the last 15 years and their contribution to raising productivity and U.S. economic growth.

The Facts:

  • Groups of immigrants with high levels of education grew much more than those with lower education between 2000 and 2015 (see chart). Immigrant inflows from India and China increased while those from Mexico dropped dramatically.
  • Among the college educated, immigrants are much more likely than U.S.-born workers to have a degree in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM). These fields play a key role in technological advancements and economic growth.
  • Immigrants have mainly increased population and employment in large, densely populated cities where productivity is much higher — contributing to increases in U.S. productivity and income per person.