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Foreign-Born Residents Contributed $2 Billion to Little Rock GDP in 2016

Immigrants in the Little Rock metro area contributed $2 billion to the region’s GDP, and paid $157.8 million in federal taxes and $83.8 million in state and local taxes, according to a new research brief released by New American Economy (NAE) in partnership with the Little Rock Regional Chamber and the City of Little Rock. The report was released at a press conference held at the Southwest Little Rock Community Center featuring Mayor Mark Stodola and Little Rock Regional Chamber President Jay Chesshir, among others. 

The report goes on to detail the significant role the foreign-born population in the Little Rock metro area plays in labor force growth, new business creation, and home ownership. The research brief also highlights the role immigrants play in preserving local jobs—an estimated 1,346 manufacturing jobs in Little Rock were created or preserved thanks to foreign-born workers. 

“The Little Rock region has a diverse culture and economy. This diversity is a major selling point when marketing our region to the rest of the world,” said Jay Chesshir, President and CEO of the Little Rock Regional Chamber. “The New American Economy report quantifies for ourselves, and others, how meaningful of an impact immigrants have on our region.” 

Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola added, “Little Rock is renowned for our hospitality and we will continue extending that welcome to our immigrant families. As the NAE report shows, these new Arkansans help fuel our economy and are a major catalyst for new businesses, helping create jobs. They also contribute to our culture and enhance all of our residents’ quality of life.” 

“The newest numbers out of Little Rock show, once again, how much of a boon immigration is to the American economy,” said John Feinblatt, President of New American Economy. “Immigration strengthens the local tax base and creates jobs, and as Little Rock continues to welcome new homeowners and entrepreneurs, the entire metro area will reap the rewards.”
The brief, New Americans in Little Rock, finds:

  • Immigrants contributed $2 billion to the Little Rock Region’s GDP in 2016. Foreign-born households earned $917 million in income in 2016. Of that, $157.8 million went to federal taxes and $83.8 million went to state and local taxes, leaving them with $675.4 million in spending power.
  • Despite making up just 4 percent of the overall population, immigrants represented 8.5 percent of entrepreneurs in the Little Rock metro area in 2016. This makes the foreign-born 66.4 percent more likely than the U.S.-born to be entrepreneurs.
  • Immigrants in the Little Rock metro area helped create or preserve 1,346 local manufacturing jobs by 2016.Because of the role immigrants play in the workforce helping companies keep jobs on U.S. soil, immigrants in the region helped create or preserve jobs that would have otherwise vanished or moved elsewhere.
  • Immigrants play an outsize role as STEM workers. The foreign-born population’s share of workers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math is more than twice their share of the population—9 percent versus 4 percent. 
  • Immigrant households support federal social programs. The foreign-born contributed $79.6 million to Social Security and $22.6 million to Medicare in 2016.

Read the full research brief here.

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