Immigration: Myths and Facts

Thursday, October 24, 2013 - 8:00pm


Employment is not a “zero-sum” game. The U.S. economy does not contain a fixed number of jobs for which immigrants and native-born workers compete. For instance, if the eight million undocumented immigrant workers now in the United States were removed from the country, there would not be eight million job openings for unemployed Americans. The reason for this is two-fold. First, removing eight million undocumented workers from the economy would also remove eight million entrepreneurs, consumers, and taxpayers. This would cause the U.S. economy to lose jobs. Secondly, native-born workers and immigrant workers tend to possess different skills that often complement one another, and are therefore not interchangeable.

One of the principal ways in which immigrants create jobs is through the businesses they establish. Immigrants to our country join native-born Americans in being risk takers. According to the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity, “immigrants were more than twice as likely to start businesses each month in 2010 than were the native-born.” This reflects an upward trend in immigrant entrepreneurship since 2006. Using census data, the Partnership for a New American Economy estimates that immigrant-owned businesses “generate more than $775 billion in revenue, $125 billion in payroll, and $100 billion in income, employing one out of every 10 workers along the way.” Moreover, “immigrants started 28 percent of all new U.S. businesses in 2011.”

Immigrants play an important role in job creation in both small and large businesses. A report from the Fiscal Policy Institute found that immigrantowned small businesses employed 4.7 million people and had $776 billion in receipts in 2007, the last year for which data are available. In addition, 18 percent of all small business owners in the United States are immigrants, higher than the immigrant share of the population(13 percent) or labor force (16 percent). With respect to large businesses, a report from the Partnership for a New American Economy estimated that Fortune 500 companies founded by immigrants account for 18 percent (or 90) of all Fortune 500 companies, generate $1.7 trillion in annual revenue, and employ 3.7 million workers worldwide. These companies include AT&T, Verizon, Procter & Gamble, Pfizer, Kraft, Comcast, Intel, Merck, DuPont, Google, Cigna, Kohl’s, Colgate-Palmolive, PG&E, Sara Lee, Sun Microsystems, United States Steel, Qualcomm, eBay, Nordstrom, and Yahoo! Similarly, a 2008 study found that one-quarter of all engineering and technology-related companies established in the United States between 1995 and 2005 had an immigrant founder or co-founder, and that these companies had $52 billion in sales and 450,000 employees as of 2005.

Immigration Myths and Facts by U.S. Chamber of Commerce