Report details immigrants’ impact on state’s economy

The immigrant population in Iowa is currently at 120,000 people who are responsible for 4.5 percent of the state’s economic output, in figures released by the nonpartisan group The Iowa Policy Project Wednesday.

Immigrants make up 4.3 percent of the state’s population and represent 1 in 20 Iowa workers, the report indicates.

“It’s not a trivial share of the state’s population,” said Peter Fisher, research director with the Iowa Policy Project.

The report used several sources for its study including a demographics study and tax estimates.

One of the things that surprised researchers was the fact that immigrants have a much higher proportion of people in the prime working age than the citizen population.

“Immigrants are bringing with them skills and they are working,” Fisher said. “It helps Iowa in that we are an aging state.”

The notion that the immigration rate is something relatively new in the country is not the case, Fisher said.

“The share of immigrants in the population right now is the same as it was in the late 1800s and early 1900s,” Fisher said.

Approximately 13 percent of those living in the United States are foreign born, which is the same rate as a 60-year period from 1860 to 1920.

The report also listed some estimates on undocumented workers in Iowa. It indicated that undocumented workers pay $64 million in state and local taxes.

“They do pay a range of taxes and fees,” Fisher said.

In many cases, these undocumented workers are paying for services and programs they are not eligible for, Fisher said.

The study did not break down the numbers in Iowa communities, so it did not have figures for Marshalltown, which has had an increased immigrant population in recent decades.

The Iowa Policy Project is a think tank that looks at state-level policy and is funded by foundations and individual contributions, Fisher said.