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Immigrants add billions to NY economy

Immigrants - both documented and undocumented - contributed $229 billion to the state’s economy a figure that represented nearly one quarter of New York’s economy in 2006, according to a report recently released by the Fiscal Policy Institute.
“These figures should wipe away any impression that immigrants are holding the New York economy back,” said David Dyssegaard Kallick, senior fellow of the Fiscal Policy Institute and principal author of the report, Working for a Better Life: A Profile of Immigrants in the New York Economy. “In fact, immigrants are a central component of New York’s economic growth.”
Immigrants make up 37 percent of the population in New York City and account for 46 percent of its labor force, the report found. The report also showed the immigrants are more likely to live in middle class income brackets while U.S. born citizens are more likely to live in low and high-income brackets.
“It’s hard to be in New York City and especially in Queens without being conscious of how big a part immigrants are playing in every part of New York right now,” Kallick said. “It’s probably less surprising for people in New York City than in the suburbs.”
In addition, immigrants make up a quarter of the city’s CEOs, half of its accountants, a third of the office clerks, a third of all receptionists and a third of contract building cleaners.
“This report clearly proves that immigrants fuel growth and vitality in every economic sector and every geographic area in New York,” said Chung-Wha Hong, Executive Director of The New York Immigration Coalition. “For us to maximize immigrant contributions to the economy, we must stop treating immigrants like criminals and terrorists.”
Meanwhile, the report also showed that immigrants become fully participating members of New York’s communities, speaking English and starting their own businesses. The number of Hispanic and Asian-owned businesses is growing rapidly, according to the report, which local leaders said was a positive sign.
“It’s really good news,” said Eduardo Giraldo, President of the Queens Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “With this report you can see how important the immigrants’ contributions to New York State and New York City really are.”
However, Giraldo said that while the report was good news for the immigrant community, he said that more tools should be available in immigrant communities like Jackson Heights to educate the immigrants and help them succeed in the business world.

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