A study conducted by the Ball State Center for Business and Economic Research and commissioned by Conexus Indiana found that immigration to Indiana has a net benefit to the manufacturing industry and the state overall.
As Hoosiers leave the state, rising immigrant populations are helping to stabilize the population in many rural communities. Between 1990 and 2016, 17 Indiana counties saw a total population loss while simultaneously experiencing an increase in their foreign-born population. Another two counties would have experienced a population loss if not for their added immigration population. Of these 19 counties, 15 are rural. Overall, between 2000-2015 a full 25 percent of Indiana’s population growth was a result of immigration.
The rise in immigrant populations also has the potential to help offset the labor shortage the manufacturing industry is expecting in the coming decades. The study found that nearly a quarter of the immigrant population in Indiana is employed in the manufacturing industry compared to 18 percent of the native-born population. This makes manufacturing the most popular industry for immigrants in Indiana.
“Immigrants may represent the best chance for population growth in many communities in the foreseeable future. These newcomers will bolster the local job markets, fill up classrooms, and become contributing members to our communities,” said Emily Wornell, a research assistant professor with the Indiana Communities Institute at Ball State.
The study also explained that while immigrants are adding themselves to the labor supply, immigrant workers and their families are driving demand for consumer goods and services, resulting in further economic growth in Indiana. Labor statistics further demonstrate that based on unemployment rates, labor market participation and the average number of workers per household, foreign-born Hoosiers are more economically active than native born populations, and in 2014 alone contributed $65 million to local and state taxes.
“Immigration in Indiana is fiscally, educationally, and demographically important, and likely marks an environment of increasing economic opportunity,” Wornell said. “Overall, we find that immigration, regardless of authorization status, is an important source of fiscal, economic, and demographic health for Indiana’s future.”