Report: Immigration is Key to Boosting Michigan’s Population

A new report, Contributions of New Americans in Michigan, released by the American Immigration Council — in partnership with the Michigan Global Talent Coalition — underscores the crucial role immigrants play in the state’s population growth, labor force, business creation, and consumer spending power.
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A new report from the American Immigration Council underscores the crucial role immigrants play in the state’s population growth, labor force, business creation, and consumer spending power. // Stock photo

A new report, Contributions of New Americans in Michigan, released by the American Immigration Council — in partnership with the Michigan Global Talent Coalition — underscores the crucial role immigrants play in the state’s population growth, labor force, business creation, and consumer spending power.

Over the past decade, the state’s immigrant population grew by more than 87,000 Michigan residents, accounting for 57.7 percent of the state’s population growth.

As of 2022 there were more than 687,000 New Americans in Michigan, making up 6.9 percent of the state’s population.Immigrants represented 8.4 percent of Michigan’s working age population and employed labor force.

In 2022 alone, immigrants in the state held $23.1 billion in spending power, paid $5.5 billion in federal taxes, and paid $2.6 billion in state and local taxes. In that same year, immigrants were 24.1 percent more likely to be of working age than their U.S.-born counterparts, allowing them to actively participate in the labor force and contribute to the economy as taxpayers and consumers.

The report was released at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s 2024 Mackinac Policy Conference, which gathers the state’s business, economic, political, and community leaders to discuss critical issues under the theme of “Bridging the Future Together.”

“The findings of this report document the value and importance of immigration and immigrants’ economic contributions to Michigan,” says Jeremy Robbins, executive director of the American Immigration Council. “The fact that immigration is responsible for the majority of Michigan’s population growth is typical for states across the Midwest and Northeast and much of the country.

“We hope policymakers and business leaders can use this data to properly contextualize hiring, talent attraction and retention, workforce development, and economic development in public policy decisions.”

The report emphasizes prior research and reports centering on Michigan’s population challenges.

“A Michigan population strategy without an immigration strategy is akin to developing a Michigan economic strategy that would ignore automobiles, manufacturing, and agriculture,” says Steve Tobocman, executive director of Global Detroit, a member organization of the Michigan Global Talent Coalition.

“Immigration has been the single biggest driver of population growth in Michigan for 30 years, and all of the prior research on this topic acknowledges that reality. It’s absolutely imperative for policy leaders to invest in what has proven to be our strongest asset in fighting population loss and economic stagnation — our immigrant workforce. The data doesn’t lie.”

The new research report, Contributions of New Americans in Michigan, finds:

  • Immigrants are crucial to addressing Michigan’s population challenges. In 2023, Gretchen Whitmer created the nation’s first Chief Growth Officer within state government to focus efforts to grow Michigan’s population, economy, and reputation as the best place to live, work, raise a family, and start a business. Whitmer also commissioned the Growing Michigan Together Council to tackle these issues and set the state up for long-term success (but so far she has implemented few of the council’s recommendations). Contributions of New Americans in Michigan shows that immigrants are vital to this work and were the source of 57.7 percent of the state’s population growth over the last decade.
  • Immigrants are helping the state meet crucial labor force demands. In 2022, immigrants represented 18.6 percent of Michigan’s workers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, despite only comprising 6.9 percent of the state’s total population. Immigrants comprised 28.2 percent of all the software developers and 24.3 percent of the mechanical engineers working in Michigan.
  • Immigrants launch businesses that create jobs and contribute to our economy. In 2022, there were 46,200 immigrant entrepreneurs whose businesses generated $1.4 billion in business income. The report profiles two of those entrepreneurs: Bing Goei, owner of Eastern Floral in Grand Rapids, and Manish Senta, owner of TekWissen, an IT consulting and staffing firm in Ann Arbor.

“The Grand Rapids Chamber is proud to stand with nearly two dozen other business and industry organizations as part of the Michigan Global Talent Coalition,” says Rick Baker, president and CEO of the Grand Rapids Chamber. “Today’s report expands upon prior American Immigration Council reports provided to the West Michigan CEO Council documenting the importance of immigration to the local economies of Kent and Ottawa counties.

“Talent and population growth are top issues for business, and simply put, the numbers don’t lie. Immigration is a critical source to our state’s economic prosperity and our future growth.”

Read the full research brief here.