Illinois 12th congressional district relies on immigrant businesses, workers
Immigrants account for 14 percent of the Illinois population, but they make up about 22 percent of the state's entrepreneurs -- translating to more than $2 billion in business in 2014 alone.
Those statistics are part of the New American Economy's "Map the Impact," a recently released report that showcases immigration contributions to all 435 congressional districts in the United States. As a whole, Illinois is home to about 1.8 million immigrants -- the sixth-most of any state. The report shows them working in a wide range of capacities, from metal work to software development.
The immigration population in Illinois' district 12 is just over 17,000, or approximately 2.4 percent of the total population. The district includes the counties of Jefferson, Franklin, Williamson, Union, Alexander, Pulaski, Jackson, Randolph, St. Clair and part of Madison. It is represented by Republican Congressman Mike Bost.
Approximately 5 percent of the local immigrant population is employed in the arts, entertainment, accommodations and food service. Another 4.7 percent work in general services and 4 percent are in the wholesale trade. Other sectors that contain a significant immigrant population include manufacturing, waste management services, administration and management.
Total household income is in line with national averages. In 2014, the immigrants in district 12 earned almost $458 million and paid $123 million in state and federal taxes, for a total spending power of $335 million. Immigrant business owners total 563, and 41 percent of immigrant residents are more likely to be entrepreneurs than the native-born citizens.
“The vast majority of immigrants are full of gratitude, and want to participate and contribute," Sunil Puri, a real estate tycoon, philanthropist and immigrant, said. Puri, who left India in 1979, said that when U.S.-born young people leave the small towns, it creates a talent shortage that can be mitigated through the effective use of immigrants.
Congressman Bost had not returned a request for comment by press time.
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