AUSTIN, TX — FWD.us today released a new data analysis highlighting the impact of immigrants to the Texas economy and workforce, and underscoring the urgent need for sensible pro-immigration policies at both the state and federal levels. According to FWD.us new analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data, major sectors in Texas rely on foreign-born workers and leaders. Notably, immigrants now make up nearly a quarter of Texas’ labor force—23%—nearly double the share from just three decades ago. Further, immigrants make up more than half of workers in landscaping services, 47% of workers in building services, 42% in meat processing, 37% in construction, and almost a quarter of all restaurant and food service workers.
As the study showcases, if Texas wants to drive economic growth, especially in the wake of the pandemic, it is crucial for Texas lawmakers to come together around sensible pro-immigration policies to better support millions of immigrants so they can continue contributing and reach their economic potential.
As Zaira Garcia, Texas State Immigration Director, FWD.us, explains, “As this data shows, Texas could not operate without the millions of immigrants who now make up almost one-fourth of our entire workforce. For generations, immigrants, regardless of status, have powered major sectors of the state’s economy and they continue to drive innovation, create American jobs, and make Texas a global competitor. If we truly want Texas to continue being home to one of the largest economies in the world, then we need to enact policies that build a vibrant, inclusive, welcoming environment for immigrants of all backgrounds. It’s time for our leaders in Congress to pass sensible pro-immigration policies that allow us to build further success.”
FWD.us Senior Demographer Phillip Connor goes on to note that, “This new analysis further underscores the need for foreign-born workers and entrepreneurs in Texas, which have long held a vital role in the Lone Star State. However, despite being home to the second-largest immigrant labor force in the nation, current immigration laws fail to harness the power of immigrant workers by preventing them from planting roots, pursuing an education, receiving licenses for work, and fully contributing to the economy, among other hardships. As lawmakers continue to debate immigration policies, they must consider the true economic value of immigration and not let politics stand in the way of growth and prosperity.”
Other key findings from the analysis include:
Immigrants in Texas’ workforce contribute an estimated $119 billion to the Texas economy annually in personal income, making up nearly 1 in 5 of all wage dollars in the state.
Some 71% of immigrants in Texas speak English, about 59% are homeowners, and 79% have lived in the U.S. since 2010 or earlier. About 9 million Texans, or roughly a third of Texas’ population, live in a household with at least one immigrant.
More than 1.1 million are naturalized U.S. citizens, an estimated 900,000 people are lawful permanent residents, and 140,000 individuals are members of the workforce with nonimmigrant status, like H-1B visa holders, or other temporary immigrants. Together, these U.S. citizens and people with some form of legal status make up 15% of Texas’ total labor force.
More than 1.1 million workers in Texas are undocumented immigrants, representing nearly 8% of the total workforce, the highest level of any U.S. state.
Undocumented immigrants are particularly concentrated in agricultural occupations (33% of the total agricultural workforce), construction jobs (27%), and among building grounds and maintenance workers (24%).
Undocumented workers are also highly integrated into Texas’ communities and society, with nearly half (49%) being homeowners and more than three-quarters (78%) having lived in the U.S. since 2010 or earlier. Through their wages, they contribute more than $30 billion to the economy annually, with an additional $6.5 billion in combined federal, state, and local taxes.