Africans have for many years migrated to the United States for several reasons. Throughout history, African immigrants have in one way or another contributed greatly to the growth of the US in many sectors of the economy. Despite these contributions, the impact of African immigrants in the US is not always recognized or acknowledged.
These immigrants naturalize at high rates, which is a sign that they want to be fully integrated into the society and bring their contribution. They attain higher levels of education than the overall U.S. population, and are more likely to have earned their degree in a Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math field. They also make meaningful contributions to several vital sectors of the economy – including healthcare – where employers have persistent challenges finding enough workers. Let’s analyze the unsung but yet shinning contribution of African immigrants to the US economy.
African immigrant contributes billions of dollars to the U.S. economy through their spending and tax payments. Research has shown that African immigrants earned $55.1 billion in 2015. Their households paid $10.1 billion in federal taxes and $4.7 billion in state and local taxes – giving African immigrants an estimated spending power of more than $40.3 billion that year, compare to the native US born citizens.
The taxes generated from Africans are used to fund support programs like Medicare and Social Security at both the federal, and state or local levels. Their contributions have also helped businesses grow, thereby helping the economy thrive better.
African immigrants boast higher levels of education than the overall U.S. population with over 40% of the highly educated been Africans. This has greatly benefited the American society as these educated Africans have become pillars of great reckon as they have a positive impact on the US community, making the United States one of the countries with the most educated people in the world.
Filling the Gap in Labor Force
By virtue of their relative youth, education, and skills, African immigrants contribute significantly to local economies across the United States. The African immigrant population is, on average, younger than both the overall foreign-born and U.S.- born populations. In 2015, only 6.7% of African immigrants were older than age 65, compared to 14.9% of the U.S.-born population. African immigrants are overwhelmingly of prime working age, with 73.4% between the ages of 25 and 65. That relative youth allows Africans to contribute greatly to the labor force of the US. The labor force participation rate of African immigrants is much higher than that of both the U.S.-born population (62.6%) and the overall foreign-born population (66.0%). It is also higher than other immigrant groups, including both Asian and Hispanic immigrants.
Filling the gap as Entrepreneurs
African immigrants have made meaningful contributions to the US economy as entrepreneurs with over 90,000 foreign-born Africans as entrepreneurs in 2015. They have created jobs, thereby working to fill the unemployment challenges faced in the country as well as to provide revenue for the country through taxes and salary payments. One of such African born entrepreneurs is Rahem Fagiri, an African immigrant from Sudan who runs an online marketplace for buying and selling furniture. Ola Ayeni is another example of these African entrepreneurs. Ola is from Nigeria and he migrated to the US when he was 26 on a family sponsored-visa. Ola Ayeni now runs a firm that helps struggling restaurants in the US survive in a though economy. The contribution of African immigrant entrepreneurs helps grow the economic standard of the country.
African Immigrants in the Healthcare Sector
In 2015, the number of open healthcare positions in the US economy far exceeded the number of unemployed workers with experience in the field, which prompted the US to hire medical practitioners from other countries to fill and meet the high demand. The American system relies to a surprising extent on foreign medical graduates, most of whom are Africans. Despite the brain drain effect it leaves in African countries and the fact that African countries need all its medical practitioners, the United States economy would not survive without these qualified African immigrants filling these positions. The percentage rating can be clearly described as the US having 25 health care workers mostly from African descent for every 1000 of its citizens, while some African countries has 2.3 health care workers for every 1000 of its citizens.
With all these contributions, its difficult to say that African have not been a vital aspect of the economic growth of the United States. Even from its early days when Africans migrated to foreign countries including the US as slaves, they contributed immensely to the present-day United States.
There is a clear contrast between this striking reality and the perception of Americans on these African immigrants. Even President Trump believes that Africans should not be allowed to migrate to the United States, assuming that since they come from poor and “shit-hole” countries, they are uneducated an are coming to the United States to take advantage of the Welfare system or to steal unskilled jobs from struggling Americans. As a result of this biased perception and the negative images of the African continent the news outlets portray, African immigrants are discriminated and their contribution underestimated. The reality is mind blowing: the United States depends on the African immigrants for its daily living, from the health sector to the creation of employment through various businesses like hair salons, restaurants and many more, and also through the creation of revenue for the federal, state and local governments.
The valuable contribution of African immigrants to the US economy doesn’t necessarily translate into a political or lobbying power, most likely because Africans are not united and well organized like other immigrant communities. When African immigrants will be more empowered and involved in activism, their voice will be heard. Their contribution to the US economy would not anymore go unnoticed and would receive the due acknowledgement it deserves. Additionally, Africans will be able to use their lobbying power to influence US policies designed for the African continent.
Source: New American Economy