A project of the Partnership for a New American Economy
New Hampshire has historically had a significantly smaller immigrant population than other states. In recent years, however, New Hampshire has been attracting more immigrants: from 2000 to 2010, the foreign born population in New Hampshire grew by more than 55 percent. By 2011 almost 70,500 people in the state were foreign born.
Size of foreign-born population
Percent of state’s population that is immigrant
Growth in foreign-born population 2000-2010
In the coming years, science, technology, engineering, and math--or “STEM”--fields are projected to be a key part of US economic growth, adding jobs 73 percent faster than the rest of the economy. Fixing the US immigration system to make it easier for students trained in New Hampshire to remain in the country after graduation will be critical: in 2009 almost one in three of the students earning Master’s or PhD degrees in STEM fields from the state’s research-intensive universities were temporary residents, a group with no clear path to stay in America after collecting their diplomas. In recent years, noncitizens have earned more than two out of every three engineering PhDs granted in the state.
Share of STEM graduates at state's most research-intensive schools who are foreign born (2009): 30.6%
Share of Engineering PhDs who were temporary residents (2006-2010): 68.1%
Foreign born students create jobs for New Hampshire residents 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 graduate of a US Master’s or PhD program who stays in the United States working in a STEM field, 262 jobs are created for Americans. That translates into a huge employment boost for New Hampshire, a state where, in 2010, one in six STEM workers with an advanced degree was a foreigner.
Immigration Reform = Economic Growth in New Hampshire
Reforming our immigration system will generate millions of dollars and thousands of jobs across New Hampshire. According to Regional Economic Models, Inc. (REMI), undocumented immigrants who enroll in a legal path to citizenship will generate more than 1,700 jobs and more than $134 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 1,100 jobs and add more than $93 million to Gross State Product by 2014.
In New Hampshire, creating a path to citizenship and expanding the high-skilled visa program would add a total of more than $120 million to Gross State Product in 2014.
In New Hampshire, as in the rest of the country, immigrants play a significant role in driving economic growth and job creation through new business startups: between 2006 and 2010, immigrant-owned businesses generated $252 million in income for the state. Immigrants owned 5.7% of the state’s businesses, slightly more than their share of the state’s population.
Share of business owners in New Hampshire who are immigrants: 5.7%
Annual business income generated by immigrant-owned businesses: $252 million
Immigrant entrepreneurs have long made significant contributions to New Hampshire’s economy. Founded by Nathan Swartz, a Russian immigrant who began his career as an assistant to a Boston cobbler in 1918, the Stratham, NH-based footwear company Timberland employs more than 5,800 people and draws $1.5 billion in annual revenue.
The state is short some 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 2.3 STEM jobs were posted online in New Hampshire for every one unemployed STEM worker in the state.
Ratio of available STEM jobs to available workers: 2.3:1
New Hampshire may also need to recruit immigrants to address a coming shortage of medical professionals. By 2020, the federal government has estimated New Hampshire could be short 4,000 registered nurses, leaving 27 percent of the state’s RN positions unfilled. Immigrants are already playing a major role in filling these labor gaps: in 2012, 15.9 percent of physicians in the state were graduates of foreign medical schools, a population that is overwhelmingly immigrant, even though immigrants made up just 5.3% of the state’s population that year.
Share of Physicians who graduated from foreign medical schools, 2012: 15.9%
Immigrants in New Hampshire are also helping to create jobs in the state through seasonal and temporary work. According to the US Department of Labor, New Hampshire employers were granted certifications to bring in nearly 362 workers on H-2B visas in fiscal year 2011. Though this is a modest total, one study by the Partnership for a New American Economy and the American Enterprise Institute, in fact, found that for every 100 H-2B visa workers, 464 jobs are created or preserved for American born workers. In New Hampshire, the 362 H-2B visas authorized in FY 2011 supported 1,680 American jobs.
New Hampshire H-2B Visas (FY2011): 362
Jobs Created: 1,680
The H-2B visa, however, 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.
In 1955, Nathan Swartz bought the Abington Shoe Company in Abington, Massachusetts. A cobbler who immigrated to the United States in 1918 from the Soviet Union, Swartz transformed the footwear industry when he introduced injection-molding technology in 1965. This manufacturing method, which fuses soles to leather uppers without stitching, produced the first fully waterproof boots and shoes. After Swartz moved the company to Stratham, New Hampshire in 1969, he renamed it ‘The Timberland Company’ after the company’s most popular line of boots.
Today Timberland continues to make key innovations in shoe manufacturing: It recently introduced boots with rubber soles produced from reconstituted tires. The current CEO, Swartz’s grandson Jeff, has made environmental sustainability a priority, with the belief that being green is both an ethical aspiration and a critical part of the firm’s marketing success. Under his leadership, Timberland has grown rapidly, from earning $156 million in annual revenues in 1989 to $1.5 billion in 2011. It employs more than 5,800 people worldwide.
Immigrants are helping to grow the US economy everywhere, not just in the places—like our biggest cities—that we expect. They are helping to fill labor shortages on America’s farms, starting businesses that employ US workers, and developing the cutting-edge products that make America the world’s preeminent innovation hub.
Click on a state to learn more about the contributions immigrants are making to the local economy.