PHOENIX – Arizona needs its 920,000 foreign-born residents, both legal and otherwise, to fuel the state’s economy, according to a new study and some business leaders.
The report Monday by the New American Economy says those families had $21.4 billion in household income in 2014, the most recent figures available. They paid $1.7 billion in state and local taxes and have $16 billion in spending power.
When just the undocumented are counted, their earnings were $3.5 billion and $3.1 billion in spending power.
And the number of foreign-born immigrants living in Arizona grew faster between 2010 and 2014 than the overall rate of growth, both from births and people moving here from other states.
Kate Brick, the organization’s director of state and local initiatives, said all that means more money in the economy, more dollars into Social Security and Medicare, and more people buying homes which in turn keeps the value of housing here increasing.
But the report, done for the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, also shows that migrants represent a disproportional share of people in lower-wage jobs, including 32 percent of janitors and building cleaners, 50 percent of grounds maintenance workers and 55 percent of people working as maids and housekeeping cleaners.
And Randy Johnson, a vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said up to 60 percent of the agriculture workforce is not just foreign born but also undocumented.
More to the point, he said the industry is dependent on that. And Johnson said any federal legislation to require employers to electronically check the legal immigration status of their workers is dependent on farmers and…
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