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Report finds immigrants are key to Arizona’s economy

(AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

PHOENIX — A new report finds that more than 920,000 immigrants living in Arizona are critical to the state’s economic success.

The report released Monday by the bipartisan group New American Economy estimates immigrants in Arizona made up 17 percent of Arizona’s labor force and had $21.4 billion in household incomes in 2014, the most recent year for which such data is available. Immigrants also had $16 billion in spending power that year.

“Immigrants have a tremendous, positive economic impact and are a major driver for the reason why Arizona’s economy has been growing,” said Glenn Hamer, president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which commissioned the report.

The report also finds immigrants are more likely to be entrepreneurs than U.S. born residents. In Phoenix, immigrants made up one-third of all entrepreneurs and their businesses contributed $390 million to the state’s economy in 2014.

Kate Brick, director of state and local initiatives at the New American Economy, said these numbers show immigrants play an important role contributing to the state’s economy and to entitlement programs as they work and pay taxes. According to the report, immigrants paid $1.7 billion in state and local taxes in 2014.

Brick said immigrants in Arizona are also more likely to be of working-age compared to their U.S. born counterparts. She said that is important given the state’s aging population is leading to less workers.

“We have gaps in our workforce across industries, whether it’s in STEM industries or in health care,” she said. “And we’re seeing immigrants over-represented in these industries where we need workers.”

Not only are immigrants fueling the state’s economy, they’re also contributing to the state’s overall population growth.

According to the report, immigrants accounted for 19 percent of Arizona’s population growth between 2010 and 2014. In Phoenix, they accounted for 23 percent of the city’s population growth during that same time period.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said these findings “paint an extraordinary picture of the value that immigrants bring to our communities, our city and our regional economy.”

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