Missouri’s immigration numbers are full of irony. Although the rate of foreign-born residents in the state has surpassed the national growth rate over the past decade, one of the state’s largest cities represents one of the lowest immigrant growth rates in major metropolitan centers.
While the immigrant population in Missouri is relatively small compared to other states in the nation, the number of foreign-born residents in the Show Me state has grown by a healthy 63 percent in the last decade. Although growth rate is more than double that of the national average, the number of foreign-born residents in the state is only 249,155—about 4 percent of Missouri’s total population. The state’s immigrants predominantly hail from Mexico, China and India.
In the Greater St. Louis area, Missouri’s second largest city, the metropolitan area has the lowest share of immigrants of any top 20 city, according to the Partnership for a New American Economy’s Map the Impact study. This is despite St. Louis’ position as the fifteenth largest city in the country. Along the same lines, St. Louis is reported to have the second lowest immigrant growth rate in the country. The impact of the numbers, study authors say, is the city has taken a measurable economic hit. “A study from the St. Louis Economic Council showed that if the city had experienced inflows of immigrants similar to other large metropolitan areas, income growth would have been 4-7 percent greater, and the region’s income would be 7-11 percent larger over the past decade,” according reported numbers from the Pew Hispanic Center in the report.
Although St. Louis appears to be missing out on economic opportunity, immigrants in Missouri are making a substantial contribution to the state’s economy. Making up around 5 percent of the workforce in the state, immigrants’ purchasing power is substantial. Where Latino’s are concerned, for example, 2010 numbers put the demographics’ purchasing power at a total of $4.9 billion. Reporting numbers from the Selig Center for Economic Growth, the group saw a growth of a whopping 577 percent in purchasing power since 1990.
Immigration to Missouri began in the 1830’s and included a particularly high influx of Bosnia, Latino and Asian nationals.