Immigrant New Yorkers contributed nearly a quarter to NYC’s GDP: MOIA report

A hotdog and burger kiosk in Manhattan. Photos: Unsplash

The NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA) has released its fourth Annual Report, “State of Our Immigrant City.” 

Major new findings include:

·         The poverty rate among immigrant New Yorkers is higher than for New Yorkers born in the United States. Further, the poverty rate for undocumented immigrants is 29.2 percent, higher than the 27.1 percent for green card holders and immigrants with other statuses. The two groups in New York City with the lowest poverty rates are U.S.-born citizens and naturalized citizens.

·         For the second year, the City experienced a decline of immigrant residents. Since 2008, the City’s non-citizen population has dropped about 10 percent overall.

Additional notable statistics from the report about immigrant New Yorkers include:


·         New Yorkers by Immigration Status: 63 percent U.S.-born citizens; 21 percent naturalized citizens; 10 percent green card holders or other status; and 5 percent undocumented.

·         Top Ten Countries of Birth for Immigrant New Yorkers, from Highest Population to Lowest: Dominican Republic, China, Jamaica, Mexico, Guyana, Ecuador, Bangladesh, Haiti, India, and Trinidad & Tobago.

·         Top Ten Languages of Immigrant New Yorkers with Limited English Proficiency (LEP), in Order: Spanish, Chinese (including Cantonese and Mandarin), Russian, Bengali, Haitian Creole, Korean, Arabic, Polish, Urdu, and Italian.

·         Nearly 62 percent of New Yorkers live in family households with at least one immigrant.

·         About 12 percent of New Yorkers live in mixed-status households, in which at least one undocumented person lives with other persons who have legal status.

·         About 14 percent of all children or 240,000 live in mixed-status families. 

Twelve percent of immigrant New Yorkers lack health insurance.


·         80 percent of undocumented immigrants (age 16 and older) are in the labor force, compared to 65 percent of all New Yorkers.

·         Immigrant New Yorkers contributed $244 billion to the city’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), about 23 percent of its total GDP.


·         12 percent of immigrant New Yorkers lack health insurance, compared to 4 percent of U.S.-born New Yorkers.

·         46 percent of undocumented New Yorkers lack health insurance.

·         13 percent of undocumented children (under age 19) in New York City lack health insurance, despite the fact universal coverage is available to all children, regardless of immigration status, in New York State.

The release of the Annual Report closes out MOIA’s 17th Annual Immigrant Heritage Week, a week-long celebration honoring and highlighting the stories, cultures, and contributions of immigrant New Yorkers. Both the Annual Report and Immigrant Heritage Week are important reflections of how critical immigrants are to the health and vitality of the City’s communities.

“Immigrants are essential, and this has never been more apparent than during the COVID-19 pandemic. As we celebrate their critical contributions, we must also recognize the barriers they face and commit to addressing their needs,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs has done incredible work to empower our immigrant neighbors and build a stronger city for all of us.”

“Our 2020 Annual Report reflects on the enormous sacrifices immigrant New Yorkers have made to support our city through its greatest time of need, while suffering some of the pandemic’s most severe impacts,” said Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Bitta Mostofi.  “As our communities heal from both the pandemic and four years of racism and xenophobic policies from the Trump administration, we must ensure that the needs of our immigrant communities are central to our recovery.”

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