A new study on the impacts of immigrants on Santa Clara County—released Sept. 14 during National Welcoming Week for new Americans—revealed the depth of economic contributions made by this population, which accounts for two out of every five people living in the county.
The report was created by the American Immigration Council, which worked with the County of Santa Clara Office of Immigrant Relations to examine the role immigrants play in the region’s labor force, business sector and consumer spending power.
“What a wonderful time to showcase the hard facts and numbers that lay out what immigrants currently do for our county, and what immigrants have always done for our country,” County Supervisor Otto Lee said. “Silicon Valley offers immigrants opportunity and hope, and in return the immigrants do more than their share in terms of contributing to the economic boom of the county, the Bay Area and beyond.”
Among the findings in the New Americans in Santa Clara County report:
• While immigrants make up about 40% of the population, they contribute 54% of the gross domestic product created in Santa Clara County each year—$255 billion in 2021.
• Nearly half of the one million people who make up Santa Clara County’s labor force are immigrants.
• In 2021, immigrants made up 40.6% of the county’s population, but accounted for 49.9% of its employed labor force.
• Immigrants in Santa Clara County contributed $5.1 billion to Social Security and $1.8 billion to Medicare in 2021.
• In 2021, immigrants represented half the business owners in Santa Clara County and generated $1.5 billion in business income in the county.
• In 2021, immigrants accounted for 67% of the region’s science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) workers, 64% of manufacturing workers, and 56% of professional service workers.
The report is the first step toward the development of a countywide immigrant welcoming plan, with the next step being a needs assessment of the immigrant population.
County Executive James R. Williams, who as a first generation American is the child of immigrants, said the county highly values the diversity brought by immigrants. He noted that the county has been a leader in promoting immigrant rights, including successfully fighting the Trump administration when it threatened to pull federal funding from welcoming communities like Santa Clara County.
“We have persevered, standing strong with our immigrant community time and time again,” Williams said. “We recognize that our immigrants and diversity are a fundamental part of this county’s fabric, and we will always dedicate attention and resources to supporting the health, well-being, dignity and equity of these families. This study helps clearly show just how much immigrants enrich our entire community.”
Mo Kantner, senior director of policy and research at the American Immigration Council, said the county has a “rich history of immigration, shaping the region’s culture and economy.” She pointed out that, nationally, immigrants account for just over 13% of the population, but in Santa Clara County they are more than 40% of the population.
“That’s more than 765,000 immigrants living in Santa Clara County, with nearly 56% of households having at least one immigrant resident,” Kantner said. “This report quantifies the multifaceted contributions immigrants are currently making across the county, and how their diverse skills and talents help create an inclusive, vibrant community.”
To view the study, visit tinyurl.com/9a4uwsbd.