Immigrants Make a Big Impact in Connecticut

Flag of ConnecticutWhile immigrants comprise only 13 percent of the state’s total population, Connecticut has seen the growth of its immigrant population grow by 30 percent in the period from 2000 to 2011. Although immigrants make up a relatively small portion of the state’s total population, almost 20 percent of business owners in the state are foreign born. A hub of global investment and the home of Yale University, Connecticut ranks eleventh in the country in terms of immigrant business ownership rates, not too far behind California, Florida and New York.

According to the Project for a New American Economy’s Map the Impact report on Connecticut, Regional Economic Models Inc. (REMI) calculated “immigrants who enroll in a legal path to citizenship will generate more than 10,000 jobs and more than $470 million for the state by 2020.” Additionally, REMI estimates an additional 3,800 jobs and an additional $282 million-plus to the Gross State Product with an expansion of H-1B visas.

Connecticut also stands to make strong employment gains when students seeking advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) are able to stay in the United States to work in their field on degree completion. According to a study conducted by the Partnership for a New American Economy and the American Enterprise Institute, this translates to the creation of 262 jobs for Americans for every 100 foreign-born advanced-degree STEM graduates who stays in the United States to work in a STEM field.

The statistic is particularly significant considering that in 2010, more than 30 percent of the Connecticut’s STEM workers with advanced degrees were foreign born. What’s more, in 2009, almost 40 percent of students earning Master’s or PhD STEM degrees in the state’s universities were temporary workers. From 2006 to 2010, more than two-thirds of engineering PhDs—68.2 percent– earned in the state’s universities went to noncitizens. Students living in the United States on a temporary basis while earning a degree have precious few avenues for maintaining residency in the country.

The top countries of origin represented among the state’s immigrant population are Jamaica, India and Poland.