Immigrants support Portland economy

Portland-area immigrants fuel the local economy in proportion to their numbers.

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Foreign-born Portlanders make up 12 percent of the local population and 14 percent of the work force. Immigrants also generate 12 percent of Portland’s economic output.

The report by Fiscal Policy Institute also shows that immigrants often earn more than their U.S.-born peers, a fact reflected by the large number of immigrants employed by companies like Intel and OHSU.

“I don’t think we acknowledge that we have immigrant workers at all sides of the income spectrum,” said Joy Margheim, policy analyst with the Oregon Center for Public Policy in Silverton. “This reminds us that immigration restrictions would affect a lot of other occupations. Immigrant workers are far more closely woven into the fabric of our economy than we recognize.”

At the same time, immigrants make up a disproportionate percentage of those in low-paying jobs – 27.3 percent of workers in food preparation services and 49.7 percent of those in farming, forestry and agriculture – and usually earn less than U.S.-born workers. For example, an immigrant working full time in food service had a median annual income of $15,786, compared with $20,556 for U.S.-born residents, the report said.

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{biztweet}Portland immigrant economy{/biztweet}

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