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Study: Immigrants boost Wayne County

New Americans in Wayne County: The Demographic and Economic Contributions of Immigrants in the County
Wayne County

Immigrants are bringing outsized economic benefits to Wayne County, and helping offset an otherwise declining population in the state’s largest county.

That’s the conclusion of a new study the county commissioned from the group New American Economy.

The study found that while Wayne County’s population declined 2.2% between 2012 and 2017, the immigrant population grew more than 24% during that time, to a total of 164,442—9.4% of the county’s total population.

The study also found that in 2017, immigrants contributed $10.5 billion the local economy, and paid more than $1 billion in taxes. It also found immigrants use public social programs like Medicaid at almost exactly the same rate as U.S.-born residents.

Wayne County immigrants are also more likely to have college and advanced degrees than their U.S.-born counterparts, and more likely to own their own business. 16.3% of Wayne County businesses are immigrant owned, the study found.

Zaineb Hussein is Wayne County’s director of diversity and inclusion. She says the county wanted to tackle some some widespread “misconceptions” about immigrant communities, and thought the way to do that was to “counter it with the data.”

“We have so many misconceptions about that when immigrants come they’re on social services. What you really see is that it’s the opposite,” Hussein said. “They’re actually contributing members of our communities, our society.”

Wayne County Executive Warren Evans says the data validates up the county’s efforts to welcome and include immigrant communities.

“Without a doubt, the immigrant population in Wayne County is much more of a benefit to this county and this state than even we imagined early on,” Evans said.

Detroit is hosting a major national immigration conference next week.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Radio in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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