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January 13, 2010


DiNapoli: Immigrants Help Drive Economic Growth in NYC

Immigrants Represent 43 Percent of Workforce and $215 Billion in Economic Activity

Immigrants play an important and growing role in New York City’s economy, State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said in a report released today.
DiNapoli’s report notes that the broad representation of immigrants in the City workforce – from doctors and nurses to cabbies and construction workers – has fueled considerable gains in household income and homeownership.

“New York City remains a beacon of hope and opportunity for immigrants from every nation,” DiNapoli said. “Immigrants built New York City and drive its economy – in fact, foreign-born workers accounted for $215 billion in economic activity in 2008, almost a third of the gross city product. It’s clear how invaluable newcomers are to the City’s economic life. In New York City, the immigrant story is truly the American story.”

“This report confirms what our Administration often cites, which is this City was built and made great by generations of immigrants. It is our hope that 2010 will be the year in which we see sustainable, compassionate and comprehensive immigration reform that will continue to enhance our city,” said Fatima Shama, commissioner of Mayor Bloomberg’s Office of Immigrant Affairs.

Neighborhoods such as Chinatown, Flushing, Washington Heights, Coney Island, Elmhurst and Corona are examples of vitality spurred by successful immigrants, according to the report. Immigrants have been a major factor in New York City’s most recent period of economic growth, and the report notes that between 2000 and 2008 the number of immigrant workers increased by 68 percent, wages paid to immigrant workers rose by 39 percent, and immigrant contribution to the gross city product increased by 61 percent.

The DiNapoli report also found:

  • Between 1970 and 2008, the City’s immigrant population more than doubled, to 3 million.
  • In 2008, immigrants were 36.4 percent of the City population, but 43 percent of the workforce.
  • The median household income of New York City’s foreign born population nearly doubled to $45,000 in 2007 from $23,900 in 1990, a growth rate that outpaced inflation.
  • The number of immigrants owning homes in New York City doubled between 1991 and 2008, and foreign born residents accounted for 60 percent of all homeowners in 2008.
  • Foreign born workers made up 46 percent of the City’s physicians and surgeons, 55 percent of its registered nurses, and 87 percent of the City’s taxi drivers and chauffeurs.

Click here for a copy of the report.

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