New research shows immigrants in Washoe County make up 29.6 percent of construction workers, 25.3 percent of manufacturing workers, and 14.1 percent of business owners.

Immigrants were 34.8 percent more likely to be of working age than their U.S.-born counterparts

Reno, NV – A new report released by New American Economy in partnership with the Northern Nevada International Center, City of Reno, and the Reno-Sparks Chamber of Commerce, underscores the critical role immigrants in Reno and Washoe County play as business creators, in reviving the manufacturing sector, and as economic contributors. Despite making up 13.9 percent of the county’s population, immigrants accounted for 25.3 percent of the region’s manufacturing workers and 14.1 percent of business owners. Across the county, immigrants held over $1.5 billion in spending power, and paid over $321 million in federal taxes and more than $125 million in state and local taxes.

The new report was awarded to the Northern Nevada International Center, the City of Reno, and the Reno-Sparks Chamber of Commerce 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 Northern Nevada International Center, City of Reno, the Reno-Sparks Chamber of Commerce, and New American Economy released the new report at the Lilley Museum of Art at the University of Nevada, Reno, at a reception highlighting the contributions of immigrants in Northern Nevada, and bringing together leaders across different sectors to ensure that Reno welcomes and supports the potential of all its residents.

“This report is a wonderful reminder that immigration is a cherished hallmark of American culture,” said Dr. Carina Black, Executive Director of the Northern Nevada International Center. “It reminds us that when we work at unification efforts and remove barriers between us, we can discover an improved quality of life, ranging from revitalized neighborhoods to brand new businesses and job opportunities to diverse art and cultural contributions.”

“As we see the Reno region continue to grow, the need for workers will continue to increase,” 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 Washoe County. By harnessing the full talents and potential of immigrant residents, the entire community will benefit.”

“Washoe County is an example of how communities can effectively harness the talent of immigrants to create greater prosperity for all residents,” said Molly Hilligoss, Network Director of Welcoming America. “We’re thrilled that the Gateways for Growth challenge can be part of making Washoe County an even more welcoming place for the future.”

The new research report, New Americans in Washoe County, finds:

  • Immigration is supporting the workforce in Washoe County and the City of Reno. In 2019, immigrants accounted for 13.9 percent of the population in Washoe County and 15 percent of the population in the City of Reno. Over 92 percent of immigrants in the county have resided in the U.S. for longer than five years, and immigrants are 34.8 percent more likely to be of working age than their U.S.-born counterparts.
  • Immigrants’ spending power has helped revitalize local businesses in the city and region. In 2019, immigrants held $1.5 billion in disposable income, or 12.9 percent of Washoe County’s total spending power. Similarly, immigrants across the City of Reno held over $877 million 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 Washoe County contributed $206.3 million to Social Security and $51.6 million to Medicare in 2019.
  • Immigrants in Washoe County play a key role in supporting and preserving local manufacturing jobs. As of 2019, immigrants made up over 25 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 2,900 jobs that would have otherwise vanished or moved elsewhere.
  • Immigrants play a significant role in the city as entrepreneurs. Immigrants represented 14.1 percent of the entrepreneurs in Washoe County in 2019. Immigrant entrepreneurs generated $78.1 million in business income.

Read the full research brief here.