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New Report Details Immigrant Economic Contributions In Washoe County

Construction workers are lifting up a concrete wall. They are wearing fluorescent-colored shirts and vests, as well as hard hats.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Immigrants in Washoe County made up nearly 30% of construction workers and a quarter of manufacturing workers in 2019, according to a new report funded by the Gateways for Growth Challenge, which provides research and support to increase immigrant inclusion.

The Northern Nevada International Center received a grant last year to do research with local and regional partners and assess some of the economic contributions by immigrants in Washoe County.

The NNIC already had anecdotal evidence pointing at a local labor shortage based on calls from employers looking to hire refugees to serve in critical industries. The presumption was that in jobs like construction, tourism, hospitality and the health sector, immigrants are filling key gaps for employers.

The studyseemed to back that idea up. In Washoe County, immigrants comprised nearly 14% of the population but made up more than 18% of the workforce.

“They keep the workforce young, they boost the tax base, they enlarge the consumer base, and they contribute their skills and labor to really important industries and key occupations,” said Mo Kantner, director of state and local initiatives for New American Economy, one of the researchers behind the study.

Kantner said immigrants help everywhere; not just here in Northern Nevada.

“As we know, immigrants are more than workers and taxpayers. They are also entrepreneurs. So across the country, we saw that immigrants are more likely to be entrepreneurs, employing over 8 million Americans and generating $1.3 trillion in sales,” Kantner said.

The report found that in Washoe County, immigrants made up roughly 14% of business owners.

As a note of disclosure, NNIC is part of the Nevada System of Higher Education, which holds the license to this station.

Michele Ravera joined KUNR in 2014 as a volunteer and was added to the part-time broadcast staff in October 2015. She is currently the station’s host for Morning Edition.
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