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2012.12.04 > For Immediate Release
contact: Charley Reed - University Relations
phone: 402.554.2129 - email: cdreed@unomaha.edu

UNO Researchers Release Report on Immigrant Economic Impact in Omaha-Council Bluffs Metro, Share With Community

Omaha - Researchers from the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s (UNO) Office of Latino/Latin American Studies (OLLAS), College of Business Administration (CBA) and Center for Public Affairs Research (CPAR) have teamed up to quantify, for the first time, the multi-billion dollar effects that immigrants have on the Omaha-Council Bluffs metropolitan area in a new report titled “Economic Impact of Latin American & Other Immigrants.”

The study is published in English; however, the executive report has been translated into Spanish and converted into an easy to understand manual that will be used as a popular education tool in community workshops. The first of those workshops was held on Friday, Nov. 30 in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Though the report focuses primarily on the economic impact of immigrants in Omaha and Council Bluffs, it also quantifies the impact that immigrants have on the state of Iowa, one of only two published studies to do so.

“This is the first time there has been a study of this kind that specifically looks at the Omaha and Council Bluffs metro areas,” said Jerry Deichert, director and senior researcher for CPAR. “In fact, it is one of only a few studies that specifically addresses the economic impact of immigrants on a metropolitan area.”

The study also updates the impact in Nebraska from a similar study in 2008. Funding for the new study came, in large part, by a grant from the Iowa West Foundation. Other members of the research team include Chris Decker, a professor of economics, and Lourdes Gouveia, Ph.D. and director of OLLAS.

“We paid particular attention to Latin American immigrant groups because these groups are important and represent a significant part of the population in Nebraska and Iowa," said Decker. "Our research does reveal these groups appear to make a sizable contribution to the economies of these regions.”

One key finding from the data show that, in 2010, immigrant spending resulted in $1.4 billion worth of total production output in the Omaha-Council Bluffs economy alone while the impact was between $1.9 billion and $2.4 billion in Nebraska as a whole and $2.5 billion and $3.2 billion in Iowa.

The study also found that the immigrant population substantially contributes to three key economic sectors: construction; food service; and animal slaughtering and processing. In Omaha and Council Bluffs, the immigrant labor force accounted for 11 percent of total employment in construction, 10 percent of total employment in food services and 54 percent in meat processing.

The study also conducted experiments addressing what would happen if the immigrant portion of the labor force was unavailable in those sectors, finding that total production in the Omaha-Council Bluffs economy would fall by $6.5 billion.

The report also recommends future research that can better track the impact and employment trends of second-generation immigrants who have reached working age.

“Immigration is, and will be, important to the metro area and our region for years and years to come,” Gouveia added. “The report makes crystal clear to policy-makers and communities how important immigrant jobs and spending power are to places like Nebraska at Iowa.”

The report is complemented by an earlier report done by OLLAS on demographic changes taking place in the metro area, as well as the first popular education manual on the subject.

“We are particularly proud of the manual which allows us to translate very technical reports into user-friendly materials to discuss findings and problem-solving with the local community, regardless of their level of formal education,” Gouveia said.

For access to the full report and additional materials, visit: www.unomaha.edu/ollas.

The Iowa West Foundation, headquartered in Council Bluffs, is one of the largest charitable organizations in the Midwest. The Foundation has provided more than $285 million in grants to nonprofit organizations and communities throughout southwest Iowa and eastern Nebraska.

For more information visit www.iowawestfoundation.org.

For questions about the report, please contact Lourdes Gouveia at 402.554.3835 or by email at lgouveia@unomaha.edu; Chris Decker at 402.554.2828 or by email at christopherdecker@unomaha.edu; or Jerry Deichert at 402.554.2134 or by email at jdeicher@unomaha.edu.

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The University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s metropolitan university. The core values of the institution place students at the center of all that the university does; call for the campus to strive for academic excellence; and promote community engagement that transforms and improves urban, regional, national and global life. UNO, inaugurated in 1968, emerged from the Municipal University of Omaha, established in 1931, which grew out of the University of Omaha founded in 1908.

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