The Minnesota Chamber Foundation is calling new attention to the importance of immigrants to the state’s economy. The foundation released a new report on Tuesday to make its case.
“The success of Minnesota’s economy, both now and in the future, is intrinsically linked to our immigrant communities,” said Laura Bordelon, senior vice president of advocacy at the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, in a statement. “With a changing population, Minnesota needs immigrant entrepreneurs and workers. They embody the spirit of our homegrown economy and we can all do more to support their long-term success.”
Immigrants currently represent 8.5 percent of the population in Minnesota. The top four nations of birth for Minnesota’s foreign-born residents are Mexico, Somalia, India and Laos. Minnesota has the largest Somali population in the U.S. and the second-largest population of people from Laos.
The immigrant population accounted for 12 percent of the residents of the core, seven-county Twin Cities metro area in 2018 — far ahead of the rest of the state.
Among the findings in the report:
- As consumers, immigrants have $12.4 billion in spending power in Minnesota.
- Without immigration, Minnesota’s population would have started to decline in 2001.
- Between 1990 and 2018, the state immigrant population grew by 300 percent compared to a 126 percent increase nationally.
- Immigrants in Minnesota have higher labor force participation rates than the native-born population.
- Immigrant entrepreneurship in Minnesota lags the rest of the nation.
In 2018, Minnesota had 18,000 immigrant entrepreneurs who employed 53,239 workers. That only translates into 2 percent of the state’s workforce.
But the chamber’s report does not reach any definitive conclusion about why immigrant entrepreneurship trails the rest of the nation.
Larger business interests, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, were often at odds with former President Donald Trump on the immigration issue. The U.S. Chamber and other business groups sued the Trump administration in 2020 in response to its restrictive immigration policies.
Just last week, the U.S. Chamber cheered the passage of new immigration-related legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Per a statement released on March 18 by the group: “Both the American Dream and Promise Act and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act are critically important to the business community. For years, Washington has spent time bickering about immigration and letting huge problems go unaddressed. Today’s votes are steps in the right direction towards solving some of our nation’s pressing immigration challenges. The U.S. Chamber is committed to ensuring these proposals are passed in the U.S. Senate and signed into law.”