Power of the Purse: How Sub-Saharan Africans Contribute to the U.S. Economy

New American Economy
Date of Publication: 
January, 2018
Source Organization: 

This brief provides timely information on the economic contributions of sub-Saharan African Immigrants, a group that has been given relatively little attention in immigration research. A major theme is that African immigrants are making contributions larger than their numbers would suggest. The authors calculate that, in 2015, African immigrants had approximately $40.3 billion in spending power and paid $14.8 billion in federal, state, and local taxes. African immigrants tend to be in their prime working age and have a much higher labor force participation rate than U.S. natives (75 percent vs. 63 percent). Almost three in ten work in the healthcare and social services sectors. African immigrants compare favorably to natives in educational attainment, with 40 percent having a bachelor's degree or higher (compared to 31 percent for natives) and 16 percent having a graduate degree (compared to 11 percent for natives). This paper makes the point that, in part, higher levels of educational attainment can be expected due to the large share of African immigrants who come through the diversity visa lottery program, which requires applicants to have a minimum of a high-school education or two years of work experience in a field that requires a minimum of two years of training. The paper also notes that 70 percent of Africans arrive with full fluency in English. Texas is the state with the largest population of African immigrants, followed by New York, Maryland, and California. More than a third of the African immigrants in the U.S. live in these four states. The Metropolitan area with the largest population of African immigrants is Washington, DC, with more than 190,000. The paper is sprinkled with stories of individual African entrepreneurs. (Maurice Belanger, Maurice Belanger Associates) 

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New American Economy. (2018). Power of the Purse: How Sub-Saharan Africans Contribute to the U.S. Economy. Washington, D.C. Retrieved from http://research.newamericaneconomy.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2018/01/NAE_African_V6.pdf