The likely decreasing number of immigrants in New York’s labor force could also lead to a decline in the overall economy. In 2021, immigrant incomes made up more than a quarter of the total income contribution for the state’s GDP.5 Consequently, immigrants are unquestionably vital to New York’s economy.
Moving forward, New York should develop policies and enact legislation that attract more immigrants, while enacting policies that make life easier for immigrants already living in the state.
Counter to the statewide trends, some of New York’s cities and regions have already seen the benefits of growing immigrant communities. For example, the Capital Region has benefited from a growing Asian-American community, of which immigrants are a large part. Meanwhile, Buffalo’s population grew last decade for the first time in 70 years, likely due to inflows of new immigrants. These areas of the state have found ways to attract new immigrants and refugees in helping revive their local economies, something the rest of the state could follow to its benefit.
To improve New York’s economy, the state should address specific challenges that drive residents, including immigrants, to leave the state each year. This should include improving access to affordable housing for all immigrants regardless of status, implementing greater language access, expanding access to economic opportunities, and ensuring that immigrant families can live without fear of family separation.
In past decades, the growth of the immigrant population in urban areas of New York has boosted New York’s economy. In the same way, new immigrants and refugees who have moved to rural and suburban parts of the state have invigorated local economies suffering population decline and economic hardship. Communities across New York can foster economic growth and expand opportunities by implementing policies that welcome more immigrants. State leaders should do everything in their power to make New York a major destination for immigrants once again.