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Study: Immigrants Driving One-Third of Growth of Long Island Economy

November 18, 2010

NEW YORK - Immigrants already make up half of the workforce in New York City, and now a new study shows they are a growing factor driving the economy of Long Island. The new Fiscal Policy Institute study also finds more immigrants in white collar jobs than you might expect.

Study author David Dyssegaard Kallick says 53 percent of immigrants on Long Island are white collar workers, and they make up 20 percent of business owners.

"Immigrants are responsible for about of a third of the growth in gross domestic product (GDP)for Long Island over the last 20 years, and we see immigrants working in a much wider range of jobs than I think people generally understand."

Kallick notes the immigrant share of the Long Island labor force grew from 12 percent in 1990 to 21 percent in 2007, and, that growth had surprisingly little negative impact on the job prospects for U.S. born workers.

The researchers paid particular attention to what was happening to U.S. born workers, and for most found their unemployment levels dropped or stayed the same even as more immigrants entered the workforce.

"The legitimate concern about whether U.S. born workers are being displaced seems to be drastically overstated. What we found was that immigrants are being absorbed into the economy very effectively-with very few areas of concern."

Kallick adds one area of concern is black men with high school education or less, because their share of the Long Island labor market dropped from 14 percent in 1990 to only 6 percent as of 2007.

"The bigger concern for African American men with lower education levels is that their unemployment rates are routinely quite a bit higher than for U.S. born workers, and that's true even before there is any immigration coming in, but I think we need to pay attention to that aspect as well."

Full report on the Web at

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY