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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Press Releases

November 7, 2013, Contact: Press Office (518) 474-4015

DiNapoli: Immigrants Continue to Play Key Role in New York City Economy

44 Percent of Workforce and $210 Billion in Economic Activity

Immigrants in New York City accounted for $210 billion in economic activity in 2011, or about 31 percent of New York City’s gross city product, according to a report released today by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. While immigrants were hit hard by the recession, their wages rebounded strongly and exceeded pre-recession levels two years later.

“New York City is home to the nation’s largest and most diverse population of immigrants and they play a vital role in building the city’s economy,” said DiNapoli. “In 2011, immigrants were responsible for nearly one-third of the city’s economic activity and represented 44 percent of its workforce. It is clear that the city continues to be a place for new beginnings for millions of immigrants from all over the world.”

DiNapoli’s report found that the ten Census-defined neighborhoods with the highest concentrations of immigrants showed stronger economic growth than the rest of the city. Throughout the city, immigrants have helped revitalize neighborhoods such as Coney Island, Corona, Elmhurst, Flushing, Jackson Heights and Washington Heights.

“We welcome the release of this important report from New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli that truly highlights how important immigrant communities are to the New York City economy,” said Steven Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition. “With the largest immigrant population of any city in the entire country, New York City’s 3 million immigrants are responsible for billions of dollars of economic output and are the engine of our economy. We hope that this report will be used as a resource for national, state, and city officials alike, as well as advocates in their work to support and further integrate immigrant communities into the fabric of this city and the nation.”

New York City’s immigrant population is the most diverse of any large city in the United States. Unlike many other major urban centers, there is no large concentration of immigrants from any one country. In 2011, more than half of New York City’s immigrant population came from ten countries: Dominican Republic, China, Mexico, Jamaica, Ecuador, Guyana, Haiti, Trinidad & Tobago, India and Bangladesh.

“New York City's immigrants operate nearly half of the city's small businesses, and their contribution to the city's economy cannot be overstated," said Kathryn Wylde, President and CEO of the Partnership for New York City. "It's essential for the federal government to pass comprehensive immigration reform now.”

“African small business owners have demonstrated their skill in business as illustrated by their thriving businesses, stores, markets, hair braiding salons, restaurants, and taxi bases across the city -- particularly in Harlem and the Bronx,” said Bakary Tandia, policy advocate at African Services Committee. "Comptroller DiNapoli's report highlights the economic contributions of immigrants, as well as, our role in helping to help to make New York City the great city that it is today."

DiNapoli’s report also found:

  • New York City, with the highest number of immigrants of any city in the nation, has twice the immigrant population of Los Angeles, which is home to the second largest immigrant population.
  • The immigrant population in New York City has more than doubled over the past four decades and accounted for 37 percent of the city’s population in 2011. Immigrants have been the driving force behind the growth in the city’s population.
  • Nearly 1.9 million immigrants, including 290,000 commuters, work in New York City, representing 44 percent of the city’s workforce.
  • Although immigrants make up a significant share of the workforce in lower-paying occupations, they are also well-represented in many higher-paying occupations, including physicians, accountants, auditors and financial managers.
  • From 2007 to 2009, immigrant wages decreased by 12 percent, but quickly rebounded in the two years after with a 16 percent increase.
  • ·
  • From 2000 to 2011, the number of businesses in the ten Census-defined neighborhoods with the highest concentrations of immigrants grew by nearly 23 percent, compared to growth of 7 percent in the rest of the city.
  • Of the city’s five boroughs, Queens and Brooklyn had the highest concentrations of immigrants.

The report is an updated report from one that DiNapoli released in 2010.

The 2013 report is available for download in English, Spanish, French, Chinese, Korean, Russian and Hindi.


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