The economic impact of immigration, state by state. How did Pa. do? | Friday Morning Coffee

February 7, 2020 7:09 am

Good Friday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

There’s been plenty of debate over the last three years about the impact of immigration — both illegal and legal — on America’s economy and security. That debate has mostly been embodied by the Trump administration’s border wall and ongoing attempts to choke off benefits to immigrants.

In an attempt to quantify that impact, the financial literacy website, WalletHub, ran the numbers, ranking the economic impact of immigration, by state, based on “23 key indicators,” that included “median household income of foreign-born population to jobs generated by immigrant-owned businesses as a share of total jobs.”

Read on to see how Pennsylvania did, and where experts fall on the debate.

Source: WalletHub

Based on WalletHub’s analysis, immigrants are economic boon for Pennsylvania. The state finished 14th nationwide on WalletHub’s economic impact ranking scale. That’s better than Ohio and West Virginia, which ranked 27th and 43rd, respectively on the WalletHub scale.

But it’s well behind Pennsylvania’s other neighboring states: Delaware (7), Maryland (5), New Jersey (3), and New York (1). Which suggests the Keystone State, as is the case in so many instances, has some ground to make up.

And this isn’t mere wonkery. As we reported last year, an influx of immigrants was the one thing that kept the city of Erie from losing population in 2018. And that influx of immigrants was credited for keeping the northwestern Pennsylvania city’s economy vibrant and vital.

“Without the stream of immigrants and refugees,” and their children “arriving to work in the city’s plastics and biofuels plants on Lake Erie … the city’s population might have dropped as low as 80,000,” we reported at the time, citing information provided to by a senior aide to Erie’s Democratic mayor, Joe Schember.

Here are the Top 5 states on the WalletHub scale: 
1. New York.
2. California
3. New Jersey
4. Massachusetts
5. Maryland

And the Bottom 5 states:
1. Mississippi
2. Wyoming
3. Idaho
4. Montana
5. South Dakota

(Image via

Asked whether immigrants are an economic benefit to states or a drain, one expert said there’s only right answer:

“Benefit. The data are clear. Immigrants start, net, all new businesses in the U.S.,” Rutgers University Law School professor Alan Hyde told WalletHub. “They revitalize cities. Their neighborhoods are low-crime. They fill many important jobs. Their taxes and social security contributions keep the systems afloat. Their principal cost is public education since one-quarter of U.S. schoolchildren are immigrants or their children. We educate children so that they will be even more productive than their parents, and this bet has historically paid off for immigrants with spectacular returns on investment in education.”

Our Stuff.

Elizabeth Hardison leads our coverage this morning, explaining why Attorney General Josh Shapiro won’t be defending Pennsylvania’s student loan agency in court challenges — even though his job is to defend state agencies against court challenges.

Pennsylvania’s public pension systems have millions of dollars in your tax money tied up in the natural gas industry, Stephen Caruso reports. And some are raising concerns about that.

A federal appeals court in Philadelphia has upheld the city’s ban on employers asking applicants about their salary history, Cassie Miller reports.

On Capitol Hill, Pa. Dems are advancing pro-union reforms with an eye toward the November elections, Capital-Star Washington Reporter Allison Stevens writes.

From our sibling site, Michigan Matters: Republicans and Democrats in D.C. found a bipartisan oasis, voting to boost federal funding for the Great Lakes. All nine Pa. Democrats, and seven of nine Pa. Republicans, voted in favor of the measure.

From our partners at The Philadelphia Tribune30th Street Station in Philadelphia has been renamed in honor of the late U.S. Rep. William H. Gray III, a towering figure in both the city’s political community and its Black community.

On our Commentary Page, Voter faith in the Democratic National Committee was fraying in 2016, a Lebanon Valley College professor opines. Now Iowa has unravelled it entirely. And getting to civility in politics is a lot harder than you think it is, a Vanderbilt University scholar explains. And this is why Mitt Romney’s Senate floor speech on impeachment was such a big deal, your favorite newsletter author writes.

Y en la Estrella-CapitalEste plan para la licencia familiar universal pagada en Pa. tiene apoyo bipartidista. ¿Alguna vez se convertirá en ley? Y vivo en Filadelfia. Mi familia y mis raíces están en Puerto Rico. Ya pasó mucho tiempo para la estadidad.


Statewide, marijuana arrests are down, but with many localities moving to decriminalize, the Inquirer asks, why hasn’t there been a bigger dip in arrests?
Pittsburgh has a plan to triple bike infrastructure in the cityPittsburgh City Paper reports.
Gov. Tom Wolf’s 2020 budget proposal includes money to offset funding losses for Planned ParenthoodPennLive reports.
The demolition of the former Allentown State Hospital is expected to begin this summer, the Morning Call reports.

Here’s your #Pennsylvania Instagram of the Day:

West Philly’s new City Council member has come out against the sale of West Park towerWHYY-FM reports.
Pennsylvania’s dog law enforcement regime needs more money, according to Auditor General Eugene DePasquale (via the PA Post).
UVa political seer Larry Sabato has respectively moved Pennsylvania’s 1st CD (U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick) and 16th CD (U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly) re-election races from ‘toss up’ to ‘lean Republican,’ and from ‘likely Republican’ to ‘safe Republican,’ PoliticsPA reports.
Some nonprofit hospitals ‘aren’t earning their tax breaks,’ reports.
Dems on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee are eyeing up campaign finance reformRoll Call reports.

Gov. Tom Wolf
 has no public schedule today.

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition):
Because we’re a full-service operation over here, and believe in helping you plan your weekend. There are two events on the docket for Saturday, Feb. 8:
1 p.m.: Reception for Rep. Joe Ciresi
4 p.m.: Reception for Sen. Doug Mastriano
Ride the circuit, and give at the max, and you’re out $3,000 today. Better be some kind of rubber chicken.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Belated best wishes go out this morning to Emily Previti, at the PA Post, who celebrated on Thursday. And best wishes go out in advance to John Meyerson, of the AFL-CIO of southeastern Pennsylvania, who celebrates on Saturday. Really advance best wishes go out to PennLive’s Teresa Bonner, who celebrates Sunday.

Dept. of Deck Chair Rearranging.
Best wishes and bon chance to Wolf administration spokesman J.J. Abbott, who’s soon headed to the private sector to run ‘a strategic communications’ firm.

Heavy Rotation.
From their first new record in three decades, here’s pop legends, The Psychedelic Furs, and Don’t Believe.’

Friday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
Carolina got past Arizona 5-3 in a late game on Thursday night. The ‘Canes are 5-4-1 in their last 10 games and now sit 5th in the Metropolitan Division, still in Wild Card range. 

And now you’re up to date.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.