New report highlights refugees’ remarkable contributions to the U.S. economy

Wednesday July 19, 2023

If you’re a supporter of U.S. efforts to respond to the global refugee crisis, you’ve likely heard your fair share of misconceptions about the impact of those efforts on our economy. If so, you’ll find a new publication from the American Immigration Council especially enlightening: “Starting Anew: The Economic Impact of Refugees in America.”

“The findings [published in the report] are clear: refugees pay billions of dollars in taxes annually and demonstrate a remarkable entrepreneurial spirit, with high rates of business ownership, citizenship attainment, and homeownership,” said Nan Wu, research director of the American Immigration Council.

Here are some of the report’s key takeaways:
• In 2019 alone, refugees contributed $25 billion in taxes.
• Refugees display an entrepreneurial drive surpassing that of both non-refugee immigrants and the U.S.-born population. In 2019, the U.S. was home to nearly 188,000 refugee entrepreneurs, representing 13 percent of the refugees in the workforce and generating $5.1 billion in business income.
• Refugees demonstrate a profound commitment to their adopted homeland. About 90 percent of those who have resided in the U.S. for 20 years or more become citizens, and 59 percent achieve the dream of owning their homes.

Data similar to this were contained in a 2017 study conducted by the U.S. government. Researchers found that during the 10 years between 2005 and 2014, refugees and asylees here from 1980 on contributed $63 billion more to government revenues than they used in public services.
Of course, helping those who have been forced to flee their native country is a matter of principle and commitment to our international agreements regarding refugees and asylum seekers. But those who choose to help refugees start new lives in the U.S. can enjoy the satisfaction of knowing they’re also doing good for everyone else who lives here.

Skip to content