Report Shows How Immigrants Helped Utah’s Economy

Tuan Do, formerly of Vietnam, smiles as he receives his U.S. citizenship certificate during a naturalization ceremony at This is the Place Heritage Park in Salt Lake City on July 21, 2021. A new report showing the influence of immigrants on the Utah’s economy is more than enough reason for a local task force to ensure that those who come to the state continue to have good experiences here. (Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

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SALT LAKE CITY – The influence of immigrants on Utah’s economy is more than enough reason for a local task force to ensure those who come to the state continue to have great experiences here .

A new report provides data that Utah’s New American Task Force, which met on Tuesday, will use to help create goals and recommendations to the state to improve immigrant experiences and their contributions to the economy. It is a “statewide effort to … maximize economic opportunity, social inclusion, civic potential for new Americans, and build a strong community of belonging in Utah,” according to the working group.

One of the priorities of Utah Gov. Spencer Cox’s “One Utah Roadmap” is for immigrants and refugees to be welcomed and included, he said in recorded video. Cox said he looks forward to hearing about the strategies that will be presented by the task force.

“We know that new Americans play a vital role in the state’s fastest growing economy and in the most in-demand fields,” he said.

Cox said the number of immigrants to Utah increased 64% between 2000 and 2019.

Immigrants made up 8.4% of the state’s population in 2019, including 10.1% of the state’s science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM, workers; 18.7% of all manufacturing workers; and 7.8% of health care workers in Utah, including 12.4% physicians, according to the recent report. Leani Garcia Torres, deputy director of state and local initiatives at the American Immigration Council, shared these statistics with the task force on Tuesday and said the goal of the research was to quantify how immigrants help the economy.

“Immigrants are critical to the success of this nation,” Torres said, adding that the report shows that the number of immigrants in Utah is growing at a faster rate than nationally, and that immigrants who come to Utah are more likely to be the good ones. the age required to enter the labor market than the average American immigrant.

The report shows that the vast majority of immigrants coming to Utah are from Mexico – nearly 40% – although there are immigrants coming to Utah from other countries around the world.

There were 8,500 international students in Utah in the 2020-2021 school year contributing to the economy and supporting jobs. Additionally, the growing immigrant population means that 16.5 percent of Utah students in public education are immigrants or children of immigrants, people who bring a global perspective that can build Utah.

This is a statewide effort that will help strengthen Utah’s economy through immigrant businesses, through innovation, and further solidify the efforts that began there decades ago.

–Derek Miller, Salt Lake Chamber

In Utah, according to the 2020 census, the population increased by 38.8% over the last decade, but the increase in the immigrant population was 63.7%, so immigrants represented a much of the state’s growth, Torres said.

She said the report shows there are opportunities for the state to help immigrants, including addressing the percentage of immigrants who start businesses, which is lower in Utah than at the national level. national.

Andrea Verkic, executive director of Morgan Stanley, immigrated to the United States from Yugoslavia during a civil war when she was 5 years old. Her parents traveled with her to Germany on a bus during the war and eventually arrived in Utah. Verkic said his parents decided to stay in Utah because of the opportunity it would provide for their two children.

She quickly enrolled in elementary school, before she knew English, and a local man who had served a mission in Germany helped teach her English and taught German to her children. classmates. Verkic’s teacher also got a dictionary to write him notes in German.

She said Utah’s tight-knit community that is willing to come together to serve others is what helped her find her place here. His father was able to find a job as a truck driver. She then helped him write a resume in English, then buy his own truck and start a contracting business, sponsoring other new Americans.

“I stand here in front of you today as a truly proud Utahn — thank you for including me in this community — but also as the proud daughter of a father living his American dream,” Verkic said Tuesday.

She said she was excited to see how the task force will help the Utah community.

Derek Miller, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber, said Utah is a place where the American dream lives on and the state should strive to be a place where people can come realize the American dream.

“This is a statewide effort that will help strengthen Utah’s economy through immigrant businesses, through innovation, and further solidify efforts that began decades ago,” he said.

A 2010 coalition of Utahns including state leaders, private leaders, religious groups and law enforcement, defined a set of immigration principles known as the Utah Compact to change the tone of the conversation about immigration across the country. Miller said it helped improve the national immigration debate.

The Utah Compact, he said, is based on values ​​of compassion, openness and economic prosperity. In 2019, the chamber invited original participants and new leaders to reaffirm the same values.

“We believe these conversations about new Americans and immigrants are even more relevant today. We recognize the critical role new Americans play in our state’s economic prosperity. They positively impact our economy through the entrepreneurship, labor market participation, tax contributions and purchasing power,” Miller said.

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Emily Ashcraft joined as a reporter in 2021. She covers court and legal affairs, as well as health, faith and religion news.

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