Immigrants Make Up 46 Percent Of New York City Workforce, Figures Say

June 25, 2018 - 3:16 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- Amid the debate about immigration, some numbers are revealing how immigrants are contributing to ad helping the New York economy in particular.

As Greg David of Crain’s told WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane Monday morning, a report over the weekend indicated that the nation as a whole is approaching 15 percent of the population being foreign born. In New York City, the figure is 37 percent – the highest it has been in a century.

“And what’s really important here is that immigrants – people who were born someplace else – make up 46 percent of the workers in New York City, so larger than their percentage in the population, and that’s because immigrants come to New York for one thing – they come to New York to work,” David said. “You know, there are all kinds of different numbers you can use, but there’s $100 billion in income that they get. There are 83,000 immigrants who own businesses in New York – just about half the total; 451,000 homeowners, or just under half the total – a crucial force in the New York City economy.”

David said some in the immigration debate do not want to hear the figures, and there is, in fact, some controversy about some issues when it comes to immigrants in New York City. For example, economists debate whether immigrants reduce pay for workers overall on the lower end.

“And you know, there are some places in the New York City economy where there is some controversy. I think it’s pretty clear that undocumented immigrants are a large part of the non-union construction force in the city, and those people don’t make as much money as other people in the construction industry. But it’s not like they’re starving. It’s not like they’re getting poverty wages,” David said. “But there are some controversies here in New York too.”