OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — UNO Economics Professor Chris Decker says immigrants from Latin America and the Caribbean contribute significantly to the economy; in their spending and where they find employment.
Immigrants often work in industries like construction, food service and meatpacking plants.
The study concludes that immigrants from Latin America and the Caribbean generate more than $5 billion in production and more than 26,000 jobs in the City of Omaha. In Nebraska, they generate more than $16 billion and more than 79,000 jobs.
"If we're going to have a healthy labor force we can continue to tap into, one of the forces of that labor growth is the first-generation, foreign-born population," Decker said.
When you compare first-generation immigrants with Native Nebraskans, Decker says immigrants' contributions to the fiscal health of the state are larger than the demand placed on social services.
"We're not seeing, based on a broader set of data for which we've got confidence, that we can measure that there is a fiscal drain on public resources coming from the first-generation, foreign-born. We're just not seeing that in the data," Decker said.
UNO Professor Cristián Doña-Reveco is the Director of the Office of Latino and Latin American Studies and says this study is meant as a tool for policymakers to make data-driven decisions. That way they're best equipped to make well-informed policies.
"In a context like today, where we have a significant number of immigrants at the border, it would be interesting for the state to consider investing in bringing some of those immigrants to Nebraska because in the future, as I mentioned before, the return on that investment will be significant," Doña-Reveco said.