The Economic Impact of Refugees in America

American Immigration Council
Date of Publication: 
June, 2023
Source Organization: 
American Immigration Council

This study looks at a pool of 2.4 million likely refugees identified in American Community Survey data, a significant subset of the 3.5 million refugees who have arrived in the U.S. since 1975. In the face of concerns about the costs of refugee resettlement, the evidence shows that the U.S. refugee population has a positive economic and social impact, especially over time. Even though many receive public assistance on arrival, the median household income of those who have been in the U.S. at least 20 years exceeds that of U.S. households overall. In 2019, this population had $93.6 billion in household income and paid $25 billion in taxes. Refugees also have higher rates of business creation than native-born Americans and even higher rates than the relatively entrepreneurial general immigrant population. They also become naturalized citizens and homeowners at higher rates than immigrants in general. Surveys also find that refugee employees have lower turnover rates across industries and regions. In cities and towns across the country, refugees help fill workforce gaps in healthcare and manufacturing, service jobs and transportation. Refugee homeowners and entrepreneurs have also helped revive blighted downtowns. While political debates around refugees have typically focused on humanitarian and security concerns, the economic argument for admitting refugees, the study concludes, deserves consideration by policymakers as well. (Jeffrey Gross, Ph.D.)

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American Immigration Council. (2023, June). The Economic Impact of Refugees in America. American Immigration Council.