Economic Growth and U.S. Cities and States – The Immigrant Element

September 10, 2012

Many immigrants are moving to urban areas, and with the immigrant propensity to start businesses, this is good news for cities and states around the country.

The growing population of immigrants in metro areas especially was confirmed in the 2010 census. From 2000 to 2010, 21 metro areas gained at least 100,000 immigrants; the fastest growth rates were found in Baltimore, Orlando, Atlanta, and Riverside, California. From 1990 to 2008, immigration accounted for 38.5% of population growth in America’s 100 largest metro areas. The shift towards urban areas is swelling cities’ pool of skilled citizens and entrepreneurs.

Some cities are actively encouraging immigration, like Dayton, Ohio, or Baltimore, Maryland. Indeed, Boston’s long-time mayor, Thomas Menino, recently joined with New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and News Corp. head Rupert Murdoch to lay out the contributions made by immigrants to America’s cities.  Why?  As Menino said, “More people mean more talent, more ideas, and more innovation.”

Others at the state level are becoming involved. In Michigan, where 6% of the population is made up of immigrants, a statewide initiative has appeared that’s aimed at welcoming new immigrants. With bipartisan support, a new activist group has placed a billboard along Michigan’s I-94 which reads “When Michigan welcomes immigrants, Michigan thrives.”

Individuals around the world seek U.S. residency, citizenship or visas because of the opportunities found in the American free enterprise system. The cities and states where these immigrants settle are likely to find the economic rewards new Americans can offer.

For more on what states are doing to foster economic growth, the National Chamber Foundation’s 2012 Enterprising States study found a number of states that were ranked highly for growth, productivity, and livability.