First-generation immigrants in the Omaha-Council Bluffs Metropolitan area generated $2.4 billion in economic impact and more than 17,000 jobs in 2019, according to new research by the Office of Latino/Latin American Studies (OLLAS) at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO).
The study focused on the economic impact Latin American and other immigrants have had in the Omaha Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) economy as well as the Nebraska state economy in 2019. This latest report follows closely the reports published by OLLAS in 2012 and 2008.
A key finding of the report shows that, in 2019, immigrant spending resulted in $2.4 billion worth of total production of goods and services (output) in the Omaha-Council Bluffs Metropolitan Statistical Area (Omaha MSA). This is $1.0 billion more than the entire Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the restaurant industry ($1.4 billion) in the Omaha MSA.
Moreover, this spending supported more than 17,500 total jobs. This jobs figure is significantly larger than the largest employer in the Omaha MSA, Offutt Air Force Base, which employs about 11,800 personnel. Meanwhile, spending by the sub-category of Latin American and Caribbean immigrants generated $981 million and supported more than 7,350 total jobs.
Immigrant labor in the construction, food services, and animal slaughtering and processing continue to generate substantial impacts. In the Omaha MSA, this employment generated $7.9 billion in production. This represents about 16 percent of the MSA’s private industry GDP and is nearly twice as large as the MSA’s manufacturing sector’s GDP (roughly $4.3 billion). This production supported a total of over 37,000 jobs in the MSA. By way of context, total manufacturing employment in the Omaha MSA totals 35,000 jobs. Latin American and Caribbean immigrants generated $5.2 billion in production and more than 26,000 jobs.
It is important to note that the study looked at first-generation, foreign-born workers, although it also gave attention to Latin American foreign-born workers specifically from Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.
Christopher Decker, Ph.D., economics professor within UNO’s College of Business Administration, used data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) for the study.
According to Decker, “Time and again our studies confirm just how valuable the first-generation foreign-born population is to Nebraska’s productive labor force. They contribute significantly to a talented pool of workers that continue to attract new, and retain existing, businesses that create quality jobs and generate substantial income for the both the Omaha metro and the state as a whole.”
Funding for the study came from a grant from the Sherwood Foundation. The report can be viewed at https://www.unomaha.edu/college-of-arts-and-sciences/ollas/economic-report-august-2021.php.
For questions about the report, please contact Dr. Chris Decker at 402-554-2828 or by email at email@example.com or Dr. Cristian Dona-Reveco at 402-554-3835 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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