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Report shows economic contributions of immigrants


Last updated 7/18/2016 at 5:42pm

Mayor William Peduto and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald have announced the Report on Advancing the Pittsburgh Region Shows Economic Contributions of Immigrants in partnership with PA Economy League of Greater Pittsburgh – Allegheny Conference.

In conjunction with the event, Partnership for a New American Economy (PNAE) released a research brief highlighting the economic and demographic contributions of immigrants in the Pittsburgh region. The brief shows that the 10-county Pittsburgh region’s 82,308 immigrant residents have a significant positive impact on southwestern Pennsylvania’s economy through high rates of workforce participation in key industries, tax contributions, and spending power.

“This report shows that immigrants advance the economy of the Pittsburgh region,” said John Feinblatt, chairman of the Partnership for a New American Economy. “Immigrants work in Pittsburgh’s top industries like manufacturing, education, and health care; strengthen the local tax base; and start businesses that create jobs in Allegheny County and across the region.”

“Pittsburgh was built by a skilled, hardworking and thriving immigrant community. This report is a great reminder of how vital the growing immigrant and Latino community is to our region’s future success and stability,” said Mayor Peduto.

“This report shows, again, what we’ve known in our region for quite some time – that immigrants and foreign-born residents play an important part in our region’s economy,” said County Executive Fitzgerald. “Our region is a growing one with opportunity for everyone. Embracing those individuals who are newly-calling Allegheny County home is just one more way to recognize their role in our continued growth and development.”

Adnan Hilton Pehlivan, owner of Istanbul Sofra a Turkish restaurant, shared his perspective as an immigrant and business owner. “We wanted to be part of the new Pittsburgh,” he said. “It’s my job to pay back my city. My job is to build new businesses, pay taxes, and provide jobs.” 

The report, “Advancing the Pittsburgh Region,” finds:

• Immigrants contributed $6.8 billion to Allegheny County’s GDP, as well as $217 million in state and local taxes.

• Immigrants in Allegheny County held $1.8 billion in spending power, 6.3 percent of the county’s total spending power, with Asian immigrants alone contributing $912 million and Latino immigrants contributing $108 million.

• The Pittsburgh region’s population slightly declined by 0.1 percent between 2009 and 2014, decreasing from 2,571,680 to 2,569,558.5 However, during this time the foreign-born population increased by 7.9 percent, from 76,286 to 82,308, helping offset this decline.

• Between 2000 and 2014, the growth in the foreign-born population increased the total housing value in Allegheny County by more than $1 billion.

• Foreign-born residents are more likely to start new businesses than the U.S.-born in Allegheny County. In 2014, while only about 1 in 15 U.S.-born workers was self-employed, 1 in 10 foreign-born residents in Allegheny County was self-employed, higher than the national average of about 1 in 13.

• In Allegheny County in 2012, businesses owned by Latino residents had $248 million in sales, and 1,216 paid employees. In the City of Pittsburgh, such businesses had $109 million in sales, and 268 paid employees.

• In the fall of 2014, the City of Pittsburgh hosted 8,857 students on temporary resident visas. These students boosted city’s economy by supporting 5,624 local jobs and contributing $338 million in spending.

• Because of the role immigrants play in the workforce helping companies keep jobs on U.S. soil, it is estimated that immigrants in Allegheny County helped create or preserve 2,893 local manufacturing jobs that would have otherwise vanished or moved elsewhere.

• In 2014, a vast majority (83.5 percent) of the foreign-born in Allegheny County had lived there for more than a year.

This report is released in conjunction with the announcement that Pittsburgh is one of 20 communities selected in the Gateways for Growth Challenge, an opportunity from PNAE and Welcoming America that invited communities across the United States to apply for support for the development and implementation of multi-sector strategic plans for welcoming and integrating new Americans.

Mayor Peduto’s Welcoming Pittsburgh initiative, Economy League of Greater Pittsburgh – Allegheny Conference, and Allegheny County partnered together to apply for and support this opportunity. This report will allow officials to make a case to local employers that there is a need to grow and welcome a more diverse workforce.

Read the full report at


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