New research shows immigrants in Saint Paul make up 35.3 percent of manufacturing workers, 39.2 percent of essential service workers, and 33.2 percent of business owners.

Between 2015 and 2019, immigrants accounted for over 62 percent of the population growth in the City of Saint Paul and 40 percent of the population growth in the East Metro Area.

Saint Paul, MN – A new report released today by New American Economy in partnership with the City of Saint Paul and the St. Paul Area Chamber, underscores the critical role immigrants in Saint Paul and the East Metro Area play in population growth, business creation, and reviving the manufacturing sector. Despite making up 19.9 percent of the city’s population, immigrants accounted for 35.3 percent of the city’s manufacturing workers and 33.2 percent of business owners. Across the East Metro Area, immigrants held over $3.4 billion in spending power, and paid over $811 million in federal taxes and more than $443 million in state and local taxes.

The new report was awarded to the City of Saint Paul and the St. Paul Area Chamber as part of the Gateways for Growth Challenge, a competitive opportunity for localities to receive research support and/or technical assistance from New American Economy and Welcoming America to improve immigrant inclusion in their communities.

The City of Saint Paul, the St. Paul Area Chamber, and New American Economy released the new report at a media conference, announcing an array of expanded efforts to support immigrants and refugees, bringing together leaders across sectors to ensure that Saint Paul welcomes and harnesses the potential of all its residents, and presented the new report at a Saint Paul City Council meeting.

This report will be leveraged in the city’s and chamber’s efforts to draft a multi-sector immigrant inclusion strategy. The City of Saint Paul and the St. Paul Area Chamber are currently hosting a series of focus groups and surveys to garner community feedback on how to make the community more welcoming and supportive for immigrants and marginalized communities.

“Celebrating and supporting immigrants and refugees is vital to our city’s future,” said Mayor of Saint Paul Melvin Carter. “We’re moving forward together to realize this vision with our community, as we continue rebuilding toward the brighter days ahead.”

“The St. Paul Area Chamber is grateful for the partnership with the City of Saint Paul on the Gateways for Growth initiative and grant,” said B Kyle, President and CEO at St. Paul Area Chamber. “Here’s what we know: immigrants are good for our country, our communities, and our economy. Over 60,000 immigrants call Saint Paul home, representing nearly 20% of our population. In 2019 alone, their economic impact was $1.3 billion. And those numbers are growing. It is our charge, our opportunity, to ensure immigrants have all they need to thrive and grow here. We look forward to this tremendous opportunity to do so.”

“Immigration has played a critical role across the Midwest, and Saint Paul is no exception,” said Mo Kantner, Director of State and Local Initiatives at New American Economy. “From revitalizing neighborhoods and boosting local business corridors, to growing the city’s tax base and helping sustain essential services throughout the pandemic, immigrants are integral members of the Saint Paul community.”

“St. Paul’s efforts to combine data with a strategic plan demonstrate its commitment to taking a comprehensive, community-driven approach to immigrant inclusion,” said Molly Hilligoss, Network Director of Welcoming America. “By meshing numbers with residents’ voices, the entire community of St. Paul and the East Metro Area is included in the process.”

The new research report, New Americans in Saint Paul and East Metro Area, MN, finds:

  • Immigration is driving population growth in Saint Paul and the East Metro Area. Immigrants accounted for over 62 percent of the population growth in the City of Saint Paul and 40 percent of the population growth in the East Metro Area between 2015 and 2019. As of 2019, 11.9 percent of the East Metro Area and over 19 percent of Saint Paul’s population were immigrants.
  • Immigrants’ spending power has helped revitalize local businesses in the city and region. In 2019, immigrants held $966.2 million in disposable income, or 14.7 percent of Saint Paul’s total spending power. Similarly, immigrants across the East Metro Area held over $3.4 billion of spending power in 2019 alone. Robust consumer spending by immigrants supports small businesses and keeps local economic corridors vibrant.
  • Immigrant households support federal social programs. Immigrants in Saint Paul contributed $145.7 million to Social Security and $36.4 million to Medicare in 2019.
  • Immigrants in Saint Paul play a key role in supporting and preserving local manufacturing jobs. As of 2019, immigrants made up over 35 percent of manufacturing workers in the city. Because of the role immigrants play in the workforce in helping companies keep jobs on U.S. soil, immigrants in the region helped create or preserve approximately 2,800 jobs that would have otherwise vanished or moved elsewhere.
  • Immigrants play a significant role in the city as entrepreneurs. Immigrants represented 33.2 percent of the entrepreneurs in the city of Saint Paul in 2019. Over 11 percent of immigrant individuals worked for their own businesses, generating $43.8 million in business income.

Read the full research brief here.