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Study: Immigrants Make Vital Contribution to ND's Economy

A new study shows North Dakota has recently seen the largest foreign-born population growth in the country. (iStockphoto)
A new study shows North Dakota has recently seen the largest foreign-born population growth in the country. (iStockphoto)
August 22, 2016

BISMARCK, N.D. – North Dakota's foreign-born population plays some important roles in the state's economy, according to a new study.

The Partnership for a New American Economy report shows the state's immigrant population of nearly 12,000 is vital to the service industry and other job sectors.

It says as of 2014, 17 percent of all employees in North Dakota's administrative, support, and waste management services were from abroad.

Bruce Gjovig, who heads the University of North Dakota Center for Innovation Foundation, says science, math and technology fields are facing the greatest worker shortage, and there simply aren't enough North Dakotans to fill the gap.

"They're filling two important niches in the market – those lower end jobs that Americans typically do not want to take, and also then, the very high-tech jobs,” he explains. “So, they are very much needed, because we don't have the workforce to fill those positions."

The study says while immigrants make up a little less than 4 percent of North Dakota's population, immigrant-owned business generated nearly $13 million in income in 2014.

Jeremy Robbins, executive director of the Partnership for a New American Economy, says immigrants also are paying their share of taxes.

In 2014, foreign-born North Dakotans paid more than $34 million in local and state taxes.

"That is a huge boon for the fiscal health of the state,” Robbins stresses. “It's also a huge boon through their consumption and the money that they're pouring into the economy – they're creating jobs."

The study also found between 2010 and 2014, North Dakota saw the highest foreign-born population growth in the nation.

Gjovig maintains the state could benefit from comprehensive federal immigration reform, which he says could help sustain many industries.

"Immigrants often have great international ties that they bring with them,” he states. “And we're a state with the commodities of ag and energy that have a worldwide market. And having those worldwide connections are very important for us to do business globally."



Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - ND