CHARLESTON – New American Economy (NAE) has released a Map
the Impact report, which highlights the economic, voting and other impacts
immigrants have on their respective states, cities, congressional districts and
industries and uses that data as a basis for its call for immigration reform
efforts across the country.
Map the Impact includes information on immigrant tax
contributions, spending power, entrepreneurship, workforce, homeownership,
demographics and voting power.
U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito’s Press Secretary Kelley
Moore said job creation is especially important to the senator.
“Sen. Capito is committed to growing jobs and
opportunities for all people in West Virginia,” Moore told The West Virginia Record.
According to the information specific to West Virginia, the
state’s foreign-born population increased by 19 percent between 2010 and 2014. NAE
said “this increase helped West Virginia avoid the type of sharp population
decline that has hurt other cities and states in recent years.”
According to the report, these immigrants have contributed
to West Virginia in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)
professions, and as health care professionals.
Professions with the highest share of foreign-born employees
in West Virginia include those in colleges, universities and professional
schools, computer systems design, health care, automobile dealers, beauty salon
workers, post-secondary teachers, assemblers and fabricators, human resources
professionals, physicians and surgeons and accountants and auditors.
In addition, NAE found that 3.9 percent of STEM workers in
the state are immigrants. Foreign nationals also make up 19.4 percent of STEM field
master’s degree students and 31.5 percent of STEM Ph.D. candidates.
“This data puts the economic power of America’s immigrants
in stark relief,” NAE chairman John Feinblatt said in a release. “Across the
map, and in every industry, immigrants strengthen the economies of big cities and
small towns alike.”
According to the report, a total of 26,821 of West Virginia’s
residents in 2014 were immigrants, reflecting a 1.5 percent share of the state’s
population. Those foreign-born workers paid $176.9 million in taxes in that
year and brought $478.2 million in spending power to the region.
NAE data showed that there were 722 immigrant entrepreneurs
in West Virginia in 2014, and 9,863 West Virginia residents were employed by
firms owned by immigrants.
Additionally, NAE said immigrants in the United States are
more likely to be working-age than their U.S.-born counterparts, meaning the
immigrants can help boost the economy.
“As West Virginia’s slow population growth may potentially
deprive businesses of customers and employers of a workforce they can depend on
as more baby boomers retire, immigrants are likely to help to address some of
these demographic challenges,” NAE said in the report.
In fact, NAE reported that 58.4 percent of the population
share in the state between the ages of 25 and 64 in Louisiana are foreign born.
Finally, NAE’s data revealed that 12,316 of immigrants in West
Virginia will be eligible to vote in the 2020 presidential election. Given the
relatively slim 179,386 margin of victory in the state for the 2012
presidential election, these immigrants could have a significant voice in the
state and country’s future.
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin did not immediately respond to a
request for comment.