Immigrants to Los Angeles generate more than one-third of the county’s gross domestic product and account for more than half of the self-employed workers in the county, according to a new study released Wednesday.
The study, released jointly by the city of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, and the nonprofit New American Economy found that foreign-born residents in Los Angeles County generated nearly $233 billion in economic activity in 2014, accounting for 35 percent of the county’s $653 billion gross domestic product.
The study, titled “New Americans in Los Angeles” also found that the foreign born population in Los Angeles County held spending power equivalent to $70 billion and paid more than $25 billion in federal, state and local taxes in 2014. Immigrants also displayed their entrepreneurial prowess, accounting for 51.5 percent of all self-employed workers in the county; their businesses generated $7.2 billion.
The percentage of self-employed who were foreign-born was slightly higher in the city of Los Angeles, at 53 percent.
“Immigration is at the heart of L.A.’s story, and this report shows the numbers behind what we see and feel in our city every day,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in a statement. “People from all over the world are a driving force in an economic resurgence. L.A. became one of the world’s great cities by embracing immigration and diversity, and we’ll continue supporting anyone who wants to work hard and invest in our future - no matter who they are, where they come from, or what language they speak.”
Garcetti’s statement was intended as a rebuttal to the rhetoric from the Trump Administration and others in Washington D.C. seeking to reduce the numbers of immigrants, especially those without proper documentation.
While the study did point out the economic contributions that immigrants made to the local economy, it did not factor in added costs in social services for them or their families. And it also did not address assertions by immigration critics that immigrants, especially those without documentation, can exert downward pressure on average wages.
Nonetheless, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Gary Toebben also pointed to the study in extolling the value of immigrants to the local economy. “From entertainment to innovation to education and small business, our economy is stronger and our communities are better because immigrants are a part of them,” he said in a statement.
Public policy and energy reporter Howard Fine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @howardafine.