Study: Economic impact of refugees in Southeast Michigan nearly $300M in 2016

Michigan's foreign-born population has grown by 64,000 residents since 2010

DETROIT – A new study is shedding light on the economic impact of Michigan's refugee population. 

The new report entitled Economic Impact of Refugees in Southeast Michigan conservatively estimates total annual economic impact to be between $229.6 million and $295.3 million in new spending, along with between 1,798 and 2,311 new jobs, in 2016 alone, from the over 21,000 refugees in resettled into Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne Counties between 2007-2016. 

Michigan has been the fourth largest destination state for refugees over the last decade. 

“Studies like Global Detroit’s report can help public policy makers, local and state government, philanthropy, and even the private sector,” noted study co-author Elisabeth Gerber, Professor and Associate Dean at the Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. “It is our hope that local communities deciding to welcome refugees can use this research to better integrate refugees, help them achieve self-sufficiency, and insure that their resettlement is an economic benefit to the local community.”

The Trump administration announced last month it will dramatically reduce the number of refugees allowed to resettle in the United States, bringing the number to less than half of what former President Barack Obama had proposed for the current fiscal year.

The US plans to admit no more than 45,000 refugees in the coming year, with regional caps of 19,000 for Africa, 17,500 for the Near East and South Asia (which includes most Middle Eastern countries), 5,000 for East Asia, 2,000 for Europe and Central Asia, and 1,500 for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Here are some more key points from the Global Detroit study:

  • Michigan was the fourth largest state for resettlement in 2016 and has resettled over 34,000 refugees over the last decade, the fourth largest state over that longer period as well.
  • Michigan’s foreign-born population has grown by 64,000 residents since 2010, which is 14,000 more than the state’s overall population growth, suggesting that the state is still losing U.S.-born population/
  • 65% of refugee arrivals in the last decade were working age, or between 16-64 years old. This is similar to the overall population of the region. Another 30% were under 16 years old. 
  • Notably, the resettlement data suggests that less than 5% of the refugees resettled in Southeast Michigan between 2007-2016 were in the city of Detroit.
  • Estimated direct impact of refugee household spending in 2015 in Metro Detroit reaches $117.4 million.
  • In total, refugee workers boosted the economy in Southeast Michigan by between $164.3 million and $211.3 million. 

You can read the full study below.

About the Author:

Ken Haddad has proudly been with WDIV/ClickOnDetroit since 2013. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters, and helps lead the WDIV Insider team. He's a big sports fan and is constantly sipping Lions Kool-Aid.