1. Introduction

Maryland’s reputation as a destination for immigrants began in 1632 when Caecilius Calvert, the 2nd Lord Baltimore, was awarded a charter from King James I to create the Province of Maryland. Calvert promoted tolerance for all Christian religions in the colony, even though the Maryland colony was officially Catholic, making it more appealing to many religious minorities seeking to come to America. Maryland became known as a haven for Catholics in the New World, particularly important at a time of religious persecution in England. Calvert governed for 42 years, during which more than 30,000 people immigrated to Maryland.

Recently, Maryland’s foreign-born population has grown significantly: from 2000 to 2011, the number of immigrants in Maryland grew by more than 54 percent, much higher than the national average. This growth has expanded the state’s already large immigrant population; the 2011 American Community Survey found that nearly 800,000 people in the state were foreign-born, making up almost 14 percent of Maryland’s total population.

  • Size of foreign-born population


  • Percent of state’s population that is immigrant


  • Growth in foreign-born population 2000-2010


  • Top countries of origin

    El Salvador, India, The Philippines

2. Economic Impact

In the coming years, science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields are projected to be a key part of US economic growth, adding jobs 73 percent faster than the rest of the economy. For Maryland, fixing the US immigration system so that it is easier for students trained in America to remain in the country after graduation will be critical: in 2009 more than 26 percent of the students earning Master’s or PhD degrees in STEM from the state’s research-intensive universities were foreign-born. Recently, non-citizens have earned more than half of the engineering PhDs granted in the state.

  • 26.6%

    Share of STEM graduates at state's most research-intensive schools who are foreign-born (2009): 26.6%

  • 54.3%

    Share of Engineering PhDs who were temporary or permanent residents (2006-2010): 54.3%

Foreign-born students create jobs for Maryland and often provide the technological innovations that drive economic growth in the state. A recent study by the Partnership for a New American Economy and the American Enterprise Institute found that for every 100 foreign-born graduates of a US Master’s or PhD program who stay in the United States working in a STEM field, 262 jobs are created for Americans. That translates into a large employment boost for Maryland, a state where, in 2010, more than 43 percent of the STEM workers with an advanced degree were foreign-born.

Immigration Reform = Economic Growth in Maryland

Reforming our immigration system will generate millions of dollars and thousands of jobs across Maryland. According to Regional Economic Models, Inc. (REMI), undocumented immigrants who enroll in a legal path to citizenship will generate more than 10,000 jobs and more than $792 million for the state by 2020. Expanding the number of both high-skilled (H-1B) visas will also have positive economic effects. REMI estimates that expansion of the H-1B program would result in more than 4,400 jobs and add more than $435 million to Gross State Product by 2014.

  • $604 million

    In Maryland, creating a path to citizenship and expanding the high-skilled visa program would add a total of more than $604 million to Gross State Product in 2014.

3. Foreign Innovators

Immigrants have been integral in helping Maryland grow economically in recent years, especially as the state has struggled, along with the rest of the country, to drive new business and create American jobs. In Maryland, foreign-born residents own more than 21 percent of the state’s businesses, despite making up less than 14 percent of the population. Maryland now boasts the seventh highest rate of immigrant business ownership in the country, not far behind immigrant-heavy locales like California, Florida, and New York.

  • 21.2%

    Share of business owners in Maryland who are immigrants: 21.2%

  • $2.8 billion

    Annual business income generated by immigrant-owned businesses: $2.8 billion

Immigrant entrepreneurs have long made significant contribution to Maryland’s economy. Allan and Malcolm Loughead, the children of Scottish immigrants, founded aerospace-industry behemoth Lockheed Martin in 1926. Dr. Charles Kugler, the son of German immigrants, founded Baltimore Gas and Electric in 1816 to commercialize the invention of the first useable gas lamp. Together, these two companies employ more than 125,000 people and bring in more than $49 billion in annual revenues.

4. Immigrants and Maryland's Workforce

In part because of some of the challenges students face remaining in the state after graduation, Maryland is currently short of the workers it needs in STEM areas, fields that help the economy remain innovative and competitive. According to the nonpartisan advocacy group Change the Equation, from 2009 to 2011 some 3.4 STEM jobs were posted online in Maryland for every one unemployed STEM worker in the state.

  • 3.4:1

    Ratio of STEM jobs to unemployed STEM workers: 3.4:1

  • 29.3%

    Share of foreign-born advanced degree workers in STEM fields (2000): 29.3%

  • 43.3%

    Share of foreign-born advanced degree workers in STEM fields (2010): 43.3%

  • 47.9%

    Increase in share of foreign-born STEM workers: 47.9%

Maryland may also need to recruit immigrants to address a coming shortage of medical professionals. By 2020, the federal government estimates Maryland could be short nearly 19,000 registered nurses, leaving 36 percent of the state’s RN positions unfilled. Immigrants are already playing a role filling such labor gaps: in 2012, 26.6 percent of physicians in the state were graduates of foreign medical schools, a population that is overwhelmingly immigrant.

  • 368.7

    Number of physicians per 100,000 residents: 368.7

  • 26.6%

    Share of physicians who graduated from foreign medical schools, 2012: 26.6%

  • 27.8%

    Share of active physicians who are over age 60: 27.8%

Immigrants in Maryland are creating jobs through seasonal and temporary work. According to the US Department of Labor, Maryland employers were granted certifications to bring in more than 4,100 on H-2B visas in 2011. One study by the Partnership for a New American Economy and the American Enterprise Institute found that for every 100 H-2B visa workers, 464 jobs are created or preserved for American born workers. In Maryland, the visas authorized in FY 2011 supported more than 19,000 American jobs.

  • 4,174

    Maryland H-2B Visas (FY 2011): 4,174

  • 19,367

    Jobs Created: 19,367

However, the H-2B visa can be costly and cumbersome to attain. Employers typically spend $2,500 for each H-2B visa they sponsor, and must apply to multiple federal agencies in the process, waiting eight weeks for an answer. With a more streamlined visa program, job creation in the state could be greater.

Though their contributions look different in each state, immigrants are helping to grow the US economy everywhere. Click on a state to learn more.