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New Americans in Montana

Montana ThumbThe Economic and Political Power of Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians in the Treasure State

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Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians account for a significant share of the population and economy in Montana. Immigrants (the foreign-born) make up 2% of the state’s population, and almost half of them are naturalized U.S. citizens who are eligible to vote. “New Americans”—immigrants and the children of immigrants—account for 1.9% of registered voters in the state. Immigrants are not only important to the state’s economy as workers, but also account for tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue and consumer purchasing power. Moreover, Latinos and Asians (both foreign-born and native-born) wield $973 million in consumer purchasing power, and the businesses they own had sales and receipts of more than $300 million and employed more than 4,000 people at last count. As the economy continues to grow, Montana can ill-afford to alienate a significant component of its labor force, tax base, and business community. 

Immigrants and their children are significant shares of Montana’s population and electorate. 

  • The foreign-born share of Montana’s population was 2% in 2013 (19,692 people), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • 53.1% of immigrants (or 10,451 people) in Montana were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2013—meaning that they are eligible to vote.
  • Unauthorized immigrants comprised 0.3% of the state’s population (or fewer than 5,000 people) in 2012, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.
  • 1.9% (or  10,532) of registered voters in Montana were “New Americans”—naturalized citizens or the U.S.-born children of immigrants who were raised during the current era of immigration from Latin America and Asia which began in 1965—according to an analysis of 2012 Census Bureau data by the American Immigration Council.

3.9% of Montanans are Latino or Asian. 

  • The Latino share of Montana’s population grew from 1.5% in 1990, to 2.0% in 2000, to 3.3% (or 33,181 people) in 2013. The Asian share of the population was 0.6% (or 6,548 people) in 2013, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Latinos accounted for 1.4% (or 7,000) of Montana voters in the 2008 elections, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • In Montana, 97.6% of children with immigrant parents were U.S. citizens in 2009, according to data from the Urban Institute.
  • In 2009, 99.5% of children in Latino families in Montana were U.S. citizens. 

Immigrant, Latino, and Asian entrepreneurs and consumers add millions of dollars and thousands of jobs to Montana’s economy.

  • The 2014 purchasing power of Latinos in Montana totaled $727 million—an increase of 755% since 1990. Asian buying power totaled $246 million—an increase of 515% since 1990, according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia.
  • Montana’s 646 Asian-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $142.8 million and employed 1,735 people in 2007, the last year for which data is available. The state’s 1,131 Latino-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $161 million and employed 2,436 people in 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners.
  • From 2006 to 2010, there were 1,061 new immigrant business owners in Montana, and new immigrant business owners had total net business income of $44 million (which is 1.4 percent of all net business income in the state), according to Robert Fairlie of the University of California, Santa Cruz.
  • In 2010, 1.7 percent of all business owners in Indiana were foreign-born, according to the Fiscal Policy Institute. 

Immigrants are important to Montana’s economy as workers and taxpayers.

  • Immigrants comprised 1.9% of the state’s workforce in 2013 (or 10,090 workers), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Latinos in Montana paid $74 million in federal taxes and $24 million in state/local taxes in 2013 according to the Partnership for a New American Economy. In particular, foreign-born Latinos paid $7.9 million in federal taxes and $3.2 million in state/local taxes in 2013.
    • The federal tax contribution of Montana’s Latino population included $51 million to Social Security and $12 million to Medicare in 2013. In particular, foreign-born Latinos contributed $6.6 million to Social Security and $1.5 million to Medicare in 2013.
  • Unauthorized immigrants comprised 0.4% of the state’s workforce (or fewer than 5,000 workers) in 2012, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.
  • If all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Montana, the state would lose $96.3 million in economic activity, $42.8 million in gross state product, and approximately 720 jobs, even accounting for adequate market adjustment time, according to a report by the Perryman Group. 

Unauthorized immigrants pay taxes. 

  • Unauthorized immigrants in Montana paid $3.2 million in state and local taxes in 2012, which includes $977,000 in sales taxes, $838,000 in personal income taxes, and $1.4 million in property taxes, according to data from the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy.
  • Were unauthorized immigrants in Montana to have lawful permanent residence, they would pay $4.5 million in state and local taxes, including $1.1 million in sales taxes, $1.8 million in personal income taxes, and $1.6 million in property taxes.

Immigrants are important to Montana’s economy as students.

  • Montana’s 1,691 foreign students contributed $44.7 million to the state’s economy in tuition, fees, and living expenses for the 2013-2014 academic year, according to NAFSA: Association of International Educators.
  • Foreign students also contribute to innovation in Montana. In 2009, “non-resident aliens” comprised 19.6 percent of master’s degrees and 44.2 percent of doctorate degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, according to the Partnership for a New American Economy.

Immigrants excel educationally.

  • The number of immigrants in Montana with a college degree increased by 70.9 percent between 2000 and 2011, according to data from the Migration Policy Institute.
  • In Montana, 91.3% of children with immigrant parents were considered “English proficient” as of 2009, according to data from the Urban Institute.
  • The English proficiency rate among Latino children in Montana was 99.3% as of 2009. 

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Published On: Fri, Jan 11, 2013 | Download File