A new report on the impact of immigrants in Northern Virginia found they are injecting $57.7 billion into the local economy — accounting for more than a quarter of the region’s $224.9 billion gross domestic product.
The One Region Report was released Thursday at the 2020 Shape of Region Conference, held remotely because of coronavirus concerns. The report was developed by the Northern Virginia Regional Commission and Community Foundation for Northern Virginia, in partnership with the New American Economy.
It highlights the size and rapid growth in the immigrant population in the region and their impact on the local economy including injecting more money into local businesses, property markets, and municipal budgets as consumers, homebuyers, and taxpayers, according to a news release.
“Immigrants are a vital part of the economic and social fabric of Northern Virginia. Their success is our success, and we must continue to be a welcoming community for all to ensure our long-term prosperity,” said P. David Tarter, chairman of the Northern Virginia Regional Commission and mayor of Falls Church.
The report noted 47,837 immigrants in the region worked for their own businesses. The immigrant population is an important part of the working force, making up 27.4% of the overall population, but accounting for 34% of the working-age population, between 16 and 64 years old.
“As we see the Northern Virginia region continue to grow, the need for workers in industries like STEM and construction will continue to increase,” said Mo Kantner, associate director of state and local initiatives at New American Economy. “By recognizing the unique range of skills that foreign-born residents bring, the region is making an important investment in its future.”
The region's diverse population includes people immigrating from El Salvador, India, Korea, Vietnam, Ethiopia, Mexico and other countries, the report noted.
“America offered me all these different opportunities. I stand on the shoulders of great mentors. Americans are very generous, “said Zuzana Steen, academic and community relations director at Micron Technology Inc.
The report found immigrants who settle in Northern Virginia are well educated — between 2013-17, 44.5% of immigrants in Northern Virginia age 25 and older had at least a bachelor’s degree and 20.9% had an advanced degree, either a master’s, professional or doctoral degree. This is much higher than the proportion of immigrants with a bachelor’s degree or higher in the U.S. at 31.2%.
“We’re excited to show, with data, the invaluable contribution immigrants make to the Northern Virginia region,” said Bernard Mustafa, chairman of the board of the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia. “Immigrants help build vibrant and culturally diverse communities and are major contributors to our economic success at all levels, as workers, business owners, taxpayers and consumers.”
Read the full report — One Region: Welcoming New Americans to Northern Virginia.