What would Illinois look like without immigrants?
113,939 fewer founders. 281,090 employees out of a job. $2.6 billion in business income lost.
And that’s just from foreign-born entrepreneurs.
A new report from New American Economy, a bipartisan group of more than 500 mayors and business leaders who support immigration reform with a focus on the economy, set out to quantify the impact of immigrants across the US.
New American Economy found Illinois is home to nearly 1.8 million immigrants, the sixth largest foreign-born population in the country. And while immigrants make up 13.7 percent of the population, they make up 22.1 percent of business owners in the state as of 2014. Overall, New American Economy found:
- 113,939 immigrants in Illinois are business owners
- 281,090 people are employed at immigrant-owned firms
- Immigrant-owned businesses generated $2.6 billion in business income
- 56.3 percent of Fortune 500 companies in the state are owned by immigrants or children of immigrants
Immigrants in Illinois also have a spending power that totals $40.1 billion and pay $14.5 billion in taxes, according to the report.
This impact is particularly felt in Chicago: The majority of Illinois’ immigrants (1.6 million) live in the Chicago metro area, make up 17.5 percent of the area’s population, pay $14.5 billion in taxes, and include 110,013 entrepreneurs.
The current administration’s immigration policies have both chilled entire neighborhoods in Chicago and prompted business leaders to speak out.
Neighborhoods with high concentrations of immigrants, such as West Ridge and Little Village, have gone quiet in fear of immigration sweeps, hurting foot traffic to small businesses. Last Thursday over 50 businesses, including Rick Bayless’ popular restaurants and several Pete’s Fresh Market locations, closed for a nationwide “Day Without Immigrants,” to show the vital role of immigrants across the city.
Immediately following the immigration ban, Chicago tech and business leaders spoke out on social media, shared internal memos and joined protests expressing their frustration at President Trump’s immigration executive order. Any changes to immigration law are likely to have an especially adverse impact on the tech and startup community in Illinois (and nationwide): Two of Illinois “unicorn” companies (Avant and Mu Sigma) have foreign born founders, immigrants account for 40 percent of venture-backed businesses in the state, 37.7 percent of those working in Illinois software development, applications and systems software industry are immigrants and 32.6 percent of STEM masters degree students in the state (as well as 34.6 percent of STEM PhD students) are foreign born.
This also comes at a time when human resources professionals and recruiters report having a difficult time finding tech talent: 81 percent of hiring managers report that it’s becoming more difficult to find qualified tech talent, and 64.7 percent believe it will be harder to recruit and hire in coming months, according to a recent survey by G2 Crowd.