HARTFORD, CT – A new report shows that immigrant-lead households in Connecticut earned $18.9 billion in 2014 – 13.9 percent of all income earned by everyone in the state that year.

The report, Map the Impact, was released by New American Economy (NAE). The report was compiled for all 50 states, plus Washington, D.C. and was designed to highlight the impact immigrants have on the nation’s economy.

The report found that in the United States immigrants are more likely to be working-age than their U.S.-born counterparts.

“This allows them to contribute to the U.S. economy and to entitlement programs as they work and pay taxes,” the report said. “This is equally true in Connecticut, where immigrants are far more likely to be of working age than the U.S.-born population,” the report went on to state.

Tony Sheridan, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut, focused on that statement in the report during Tuesday’s Legislative Office Building press conference.

Sheridan said that many immigrants spend time in Connecticut getting their college education and then wind up going back to their home countries after they get their degrees.

“That is the height of foolishness,” Sheridan said. “We’re educating them and sending them back while our population is not growing.”

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said he hoped the report will help “defeat some of the misconceptions and myths that have been spread all too widely by less informed public officials and they will heed and hear the voices of reason and information.”

He added that more than half, 51 percent, of the Fortune 500 companies in the country have been started by immigrants.

Jack Kramer / ctnewsjunkie
Tony Sheridan, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut, (Jack Kramer / ctnewsjunkie)

“It is not just the groceries and the small and immediate size businesses,” Blumenthal said, that have immigrant roots.

“People come here because we are the beacon of opportunity and freedom,” Blumenthal said. “People come here to work, to build, to be free. The results are striking. Because they give to our community, they contribute, create new businesses and new jobs.”

The senator noted that immigrants pay taxes too.

The report found, in 2014, that immigrants’ household income in Connecticut was $5.5 billion; that immigrants paid $1.6 billion in taxes, $525.9 million of which was state and local taxes.

Blumenthal said the numbers that are the “most striking” to him are concerning entrepreneurship.

The report stated, in 2014, foreign born workers make up 21.3 percent of all entrepreneurs in the state, despite being only 13.7 percent of Connecticut’s population.

Those entrepreneurs employ more than 73,000 other workers in Connecticut.

“These numbers reinforce and prove what we all know from our own experience,” Blumenthal said.

He said that immigrants generally become job creators, and entrepreneurs, and business owners,and then they give back to their communities.

Also at the press conference was Henry Talmage, executive director of the Connecticut Farm Bureau.

Connecticut has about 20,000 jobs directly or indirectly related to agriculture, Talmage said. Many of those farmers are immigrants.

“The number one concern farmers have looking forward is not the cost of land, not taxes, not regulation, it’s availability of affordable and reliable labor for their operations,” Talmage said.

When there’s uncertainty about the workforce, Talmage said it has a “chilling effect” on the industry.

“We think there’s opportunity for Connecticut agriculture to grow and prosper in the future, but in order to do so it’s got have workers to carry it out,” Talmage said.