Immigrants Help to Drive Growth in New York

    01 May, 2014


    From VOA Learning English, this is the Economics Report.

    For many years, immigrants have sought better lives for themselves in New York City. Now, a new study says, that immigrants also have helped the city's economy remain strong. New York is in many ways a city of immigrants. The Mayor's office says, the group makes up more than 40 percent of New York's population.

    Nisha Agarwal is the immigration commissioner for the city. She says immigrants help drive the city.

    "So we are an immigrant-rich city, and immigrants are in our schools. They are driving our economy at all levels and in all professions. And we need to support that because it not only benefits the families involved, but it benefits the city as a whole," said Agarwal.

    The Americas Society/Council of the Americas, or AS/COA seeks to educate the public about issues affecting the Americans. The group supported a recent study that examines the part immigrants play in New York City's economy. The study looked at immigration records and neighborhood police reports between 1990 and 2010.

    The report's author, Jacob Vigdor says New York City's economy and the quality of life improved during that period. He said there was a link between improvements in aging neighborhoods and immigration.

    "The immigrants go to these neighborhoods because they are the only places they can afford, and they stabilize those neighborhoods. They reduce the vacancy rates. They reduce the state of disrepair, and these are the things that kind of lead to crime dropping," said Vigdor.

    Robert Sampson is a social policy professor at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He says immigrants who take risks to come to America are often less likely to take part in crime and more likely to work hard.

    "So why would you come to this country? Well, you want to work. You want to get ahead. You want to raise your family, you want to build, essentially, a community," said Sampson.

    Immigrant businesses also help to drive growth in New York. Kate Brick works for AS/COA. He says immigrants do work that others will not.

    "Like in the agricultural sector, the manufacturing sector [and] the service industry. It runs the gamut. And at the same time, immigrants coming to the US are extremely diverse. In addition to people who are working in lower paying jobs, you have some of the best minds in the world that are here working in the tech industry, and in engineering, in science, in the medical field," said Brick.

    Jacob Vigdor says, all immigrants help support the economy in some way by paying sales taxes and property taxes.

    "You need to buy things, and, when you buy things, you pay sales taxes. You need to live someplace. Whether you own a place or rent a place, there are property taxes on that dwelling, and property taxes and sales taxes are major sources of revenue for any kind of municipal government," said Vigdor.

    AS/COA hopes the reports will influence other U.S. cities to welcome immigrants in ways that help everyone.

    And that's the VOA Learning English Economics Report. I'm Mario Ritter.