Immigrants Look Poised to Play an Increasingly Important Role in Virginia's Economy

Nov 12, 2019

Credit MBandman / Creative Commons

Virginia’s population has one of the largest percentages of immigrants in the country. And, they play a key role in the economy of the Commonwealth.

About 9% of Virginia’s population is immigrants, according to the Commonwealth Institute, which says foreign-born residents are playing an increasing role in the Commonwealth’s economy.

Laura Goren at the Commonwealth Institute says foreign-born Virginians are typically more educated than native-born Virginians.

“Many of the immigrants who come to Virginia bring with them a high level of skills," she explains. "And they’re coming to fill the need for highly educated workers in, for example, government contractors and the tech industry in Northern Virginia.”

Michel Zajur at the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce says the reason Hispanic-owned businesses are on the rise can be explained in part by the dynamics of immigration.

“Hispanics are immigrants, and just like most immigrants they’ve taken a chance to come to the United States. And part of being a business owner is you take chances,” Zajur says.

The role of immigrants in the workforce is particularly important as family sizes shrink and the baby boomer generation ages. The Commonwealth Institute recently issued a report pointing out that phenomenon will reduce the share of Virginia's native-born population that is working age, increasing the importance of immigrants to Virginia’s economy.

Credit Commonwealth Institute

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.