Immigrants, despite their immigration status, may be a contributing factor to economic vitality for communities in Queens, according to a new study.
Research conducted by the Americas Society/Council of the Americas and Partnership for a New American Economy, examining data from 1970 to 2010, revealed that, for every 1,000 immigrants living in a county, 46 manufacturing jobs are created and preserved, concluding that immigrants are a key part of the American success story at the community level.
Adam Friedman, director of the Pratt Center for Community Development, said this report is particularly relevant to Queens because of its “extraordinarily high concentration” of immigrants. Foreign-born residents make up nearly half of the borough’s population.
As of 2010, immigrants are responsible for the creation and preservation of 22,910 of the manufacturing jobs in Queens. That’s 100 percent of the manufacturing jobs that were around, according to the report.
The study shows that communities with higher rates of immigration are able to retain more manufacturing jobs than those with lower rates. It concludes that foreign-born residents are helping to grow the U.S. manufacturing sector and preventing much -needed U.S. manufacturing jobs from moving elsewhere, by filling in gaps in the local labor force.
“We see the contributions of immigrants to our communities every day. Yet again, this report shows how immigrants help keep our economy vibrant and strong,” said Susan Segal, president and CEO of Americas Society/Council of the Americas.
The study also reveals that many immigrants create jobs through entrepreneurship; the rate of immigrant self-employment is approximately three times the rate among the U.S.-born population.
Friedman supports this revelation by saying that immigrants are like “naturally occurring business incubators” and their entrepreneurial efforts create demand for new products and businesses.
“Each immigrant community is like a submarket that creates demand for products from the country of origin,” he said. “Sometimes those products are imported but often those products get made locally by the immigrants because of the nature of the product.”
Nepal Asatthawasi, assistant director of NY Designs, a Long Island City-based business that provides tools and advice to design firms, said immigrants are more likely to form businesses in their own communities because of their strong support network. She said most new businesses and entrepreneurships come from immigrants.
“Imagine being a new immigrant … who’s going to hire you?” Asatthawasi asked. “It’s much more effective and productive in the long term to start your own business.”
This study also says immigrants can revitalize a declining community, which often begins with job loss and a shrinking population, by intervening and stabilizing a customer-base for local businesses and expanding a local government’s tax base.
The report also said immigrants make these communities more attractive to the U.S.-born population by raising the quality of life in formerly declining areas to the point where they become a viable option of residency for a wide array of middle-class families.