For immediate release: Sept. 3, 2014

Contact: Jon Rodney

New Data Underscores Immigrant Contributions to California

New report examines immigrants’ participation in CA economy, workforce, and electoral potential;  

Finds undocumented Californians contribute $130 billion to state GDP

Los Angeles, CA – As pressure mounts for President Obama to quickly take action to provide relief from deportation for all undocumented immigrants, the California Immigrant Policy Center today released a new report detailing the contributions of immigrants to the state. The report, the latest edition of “Looking Forward: Immigrant Contributions to the Golden State,” features statewide statistics and local data from seven key regions: the Central CoastCentral Valley, the Sacramento areaGreater Los AngelesInland Southern California, San Diego/Border region and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Authored by researchers at the University of Southern California’s Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration (CSII), the report includes updated information on demographics, labor force participation, economic contributions, entrepreneurship, and numbers of eligible voters among all immigrants. “Looking Forward” also zeroes in on undocumented immigrants’ contributions to the state’s GDP and the contributions of vulnerable workers with intermittent employment.

“Every one of California’s immigrants helps shape our state’s economic and civic vitality, but the daily threat of deportation casts a shadow over California’s undocumented residents – and their loved ones and communities,” said Reshma Shamasunder, Executive Director of the California Immigrant Policy Center. “Bringing relief to all of California’s undocumented residents – who contribute over $130 billion to the state’s GDP – is a common-sense step the President should take today to honor these contributions and advance economic prosperity.”


Demographics and mixed-status families

  • 10.2 million Californians are immigrants – over one quarter of our state’s population.
  • 26% or about 2.6 million of California’s immigrants are undocumented. Almost three in four non-citizens live in households that also have citizens.

Economic contributions.

  • Immigrants produce 31% of the state’s Gross Domestic Product – nearly $650 billion annually.
  • Undocumented immigrants alone contribute $130 Billion of the GDP – a figure greater than the entire GDP of Nevada – or AT&T’s total revenues.


  • Immigrants are more than one-third of the state’s labor force and are more likely to be entrepreneurial and create their own jobs.
  • Undocumented immigrants represent almost 1 in 10 of the state’s workers, making up 38% of the agriculture industry and 14% of the construction industry statewide.

Civic participation.

  • By 2015, immigrants eligible to naturalize and the already naturalized could represent as much as 33% of California’s electorate.

Jared Sanchez, data analyst at USC’s CSII and the report’s principal author, added: “From California’s densest urban centers to our most intensely agricultural regions, immigrants’ economic power is pushing California’s economy forward.”

The report also examines the contributions of vulnerable undocumented workers with non-continuous employment, including those who work 13 weeks a year or less and those who had been laid off. The report recommends that both legislative proposals and executive action include this population, with a total earned income of more than $800 million, noting that hundreds of millions of dollars and their multiplier effects are at stake.

“Looking Forward” contrasts California’s recent legislative efforts to include immigrants with increased deportations and punitive measures at the federal level. Pointing to future legislative action at the state level, the report also found that 58% of California’s undocumented immigrants are uninsured. A proposal to expand access to health care for undocumented residents will be considered in the state legislature next year.

The full report and insets for each region is available at http://caimmigrant.org/contributions.html