Immigrants fueled LA economy to tune of $232.9 billion in 2014

A new report finds that immigrants in Los Angeles County contributed $232.9 billion to the region’s economy, nearly 35.7 percent of the area’s economic output.

The report, “New Americans in Los Angeles,” breaks down immigrant contributions to the city of L.A. and to the county, providing a “snapshot” on a range of demographic factors, from education and labor participation levels.

Out of the $232.9 billion in gross domestic product that immigrants created for the county in 2014, $95.3 billion were generated by Hispanic immigrants and $81.7 billion by Asian immigrants. That same year, immigrants in the county also contributed $17.3 billion in federal taxes, and $7.9 billion in tax revenue for the state and municipalities, according to the report.

The report also found that immigrants make up 41 percent of the county’s labor force, and 43 percent of those who are employed.

Backed by the city of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, New American Economy – a bipartisan group of leaders who advocate for streamlining the nation’s immigration system – the report found, among other things, that while foreign-born L.A. residents overall had lower levels of education than U.S.-born residents, individual groups of foreign-born residents had higher levels than U.S. natives.

The report, which looked at the year 2014, comes amid L.A. leaders’ recent pushback on President Trump’s order to build a wall at the border with Mexico, his efforts to go after the federal funds of sanctuary cities and his order – now under appeal in a federal appellate court – to prohibit immigrants and refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

Trump has repeatedly said the ban and the wall are vital to the interests and security of the United States.

Kate Brick, with New American Economy, the group that put together the data, said they prepare these reports “to provide policymakers with the hard facts to show ... that immigrants are an economy asset and there is an economy imperative to immigration reform.”

The report is available at .

Mayor Eric Garcetti, who joined city officials, business leaders and researchers at City Hall to share some of the figures, remarked that the GDP amount is “a staggering number, and an encouraging and exciting one.”

He said that behind the numbers is “the shopkeeper at your local tienda, but they are also Elon Musk with SpaceX and Tesla.” 

Immigrants are “part of a powerful narrative behind Los Angeles’ greatest economy boom in decades,” he said.

Gary Toebben, president of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, said immigrants are good for business.

“California’s economy is a marvelous example of why immigration is part of the solution for building a robust economy for all Americans,” he said. “The world is watching the United States and it’s watching all of America.”

Councilman Gil Cedillo said the report “lays out ... what all of us know.” While the numbers are “enormous,” the biggest takeaway is that “they tell the truth,” which is that “they’re not murderers and rapists, but they are, in fact, the best and brightest.”

Cedillo noted that in order to address illegal immigration in the U.S., the Trump administration has a duty to “fix immigration,” by improving the system for letting people into the country.

“That’s all there is to it,” he said. “The undocumented community here aspire to live here legally, they aspire to conform with the laws. We are a nation of laws ... but we’re also a nation of family values. The president and his administration can end the campaign ... the ball’s in their court.”

learn more