New Report Shows Immigrants in Houston Paid Over $16 Billion in Taxes and Exceeded $50 Billion in Spending Power in 2021

February 26, 2024
Last modified: 
February 26, 2024

HOUSTON, TX, February 26, 2024 – A new research report, New Americans in Houston, released today by the American Immigration Council, underscores the crucial role immigrants play in the Houston area’s economy. The report was prepared in partnership with Texans for Economic Growth, a statewide 145+ member business coalition powered by the American Immigration Council, the American Leadership Forum, the Center for Houston’s Future, and Leadership Houston 

The report was released in collaboration with the Texas Association of Business and Texans for Economic Growth for Houston: Poised to Lead, a regional event to showcase the report and discuss the impact of immigration on Texas’ economy and workforce with local leaders. The February 27 event features a discussion with CEOs about how Texas can lead on this topic.

Between 2016 and 2021, the population of Houston increased by 6.3 percent and the immigrant population grew by 9.7 percent. During this same period, 35.6 percent of total population growth in the metro area was attributable to immigrants. In 2021 alone, immigrants paid $16.3 billion in federal, state, and local taxes.   

"As a lifelong resident of the Houston metro area, I am excited to see the profound positive impact of immigration highlighted in this report. It underscores that Houston, the fourth largest city in the United States, is uniquely positioned to champion conversations on immigration advocacy. Over the past five years, since our last report in 2019, the immigrant population increased modestly by 100,000. However, what truly stands out is the remarkable growth in the spending power of immigrant households in the Houston metro area, soaring from $38.2 billion to $50.2 billion in 2021. This represents nearly 27% of the total spending power in Houston, despite immigrants constituting only 24% of the population. These striking figures emphasize that business leaders in Houston and Texas are well-suited to guide sensible immigration reforms that foster economic growth," said Chelsie Kramer, Texas Organizer, American Immigration Council. 

“Once again, the data tells the story of immigrants’ invaluable contributions to our region’s economic well-being. This report by the American Immigration Council shows foreign-born residents play key roles in our economy as consumers, employees, and entrepreneurs,” said Brett Perlman, CEO of the Center for Houston’s Future. “As the Center’s economic analysis has also shown, immigrants are critical to our region’s economic future.” 

"Immigrants are the backbone of America. They play a vital role in key sectors in our economy, both as part of our workforce and as entrepreneurs. They want what we all want -- an opportunity to work, take care of our families," said Nory Angel, President of the American Leadership Forum. 

"In pursuing a better understanding of the impact of immigration in our region, collaboration in this research serves as a bridge of knowledge in guiding our collective efforts towards informed and equitable solutions," said Claudia Gonzales, Executive Director of Leadership Houston. 

Key findings: 

  • Immigrants in Houston contributed billions in taxes and consumer spending. In 2021, immigrant households earned $66.5 billion in income, with $11.1 billion going to federal taxes and $5.2 billion going to state and local taxes, leaving them with $50.2 billion in spending power that can be reinvested in local communities. 

  • Immigrants are helping the metro area meet its labor force demands and will help meet future needs. In 2021, immigrants made up 24.0 percent of the metro area’s population, yet accounted for 30.1 percent of the working age population and 31.0 percent of its employed labor force, playing an outsized role in the region’s labor force. 

  • New Americans are working in fast-growing industries. New Americans represented 24.0 percent of Houston’s population, but comprised 35.5 percent of STEM workers, 44.1 percent of agriculture workers, and 50.3 percent of construction workers in 2021, contributing a wide array of skills in fast-growing industries. 

  • International students support jobs in Houston. In 2021, there were 16,206 international students enrolled in colleges and universities in the Houston metro area. International students supported 3,800 local jobs and contributed $425.0 million to the U.S. economy. 

See our full research brief to learn more.   


For more information, contact:  

Elyssa Pachico at the American Immigration Council, at [email protected] or 503-850-8407

About the American Immigration Council 

The American Immigration Council (the Council) works to strengthen America by shaping how America thinks about and acts towards immigrants and immigration and by working toward a more fair and just immigration system that opens its doors to those in need of protection and unleashes the energy and skills that immigrants bring. The Council brings together problem solvers and employs four coordinated approaches to advance change—litigation, research, legislative and administrative advocacy, and communications. In January 2022, the Council and New American Economy merged to combine a broad suite of advocacy tools to better expand and protect the rights of immigrants, more fully ensure immigrants’ ability to succeed economically, and help make the communities they settle in more welcoming. Follow the latest Council news and information on and Twitter @immcouncil.   

About Texans for Economic Growth 

Texans for Economic Growth is a coalition of more than 145 Texas business leaders and associations dedicated to recognizing and supporting immigrants' positive impact on the Texas economy as business owners, taxpayers, and consumers. With its launch on February 26, 2019, the coalition released the Texas Compact on Immigration, a set of principles signed by more than 145 Texas business leaders and groups to guide the immigration discussion at the state and federal levels. Texans for Economic Growth supports common-sense federal immigration reforms and statewide policies that recognize the valuable contributions immigrants make to the state. Learn more at 

About American Leadership Forum 

The American Leadership Forum (ALF) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to join and strengthen diverse leaders to serve the common good. For four decades ALF has brought together a mix of diverse leaders from virtually every sector of the Houston community -- not to debate, but to co-create new possibilities. American Leadership Forum Fellows and Senior Fellows broaden their perspectives, learn new skills, engage in dialogue and work collaboratively to help address our communities most critical issues. There are more than 4,500 ALF Fellows nationwide who bring a new sense of commitment, understanding, and interconnectedness to their disparate communities. 

About Center for Houston’s Future 

Center for Houston’s Future, the Center, also known as CHF, is a nonprofit that works to understand future global trends and their impact on the Houston region. CHF focuses on issues that are critical to the long-term success of Greater Houston. CHF brings business, government, community and academic stakeholders to engage in planning, research, consensus building and action. CHF's framework includes three key pillars: strategic initiatives, community outreach/thought leadership and our Business/Civic Leadership Forum. We conduct economic research and strategic planning, hold community events and develop leaders. In short, the Center for Houston's Future aims to ensure Houston remains a great place to live and work for all its residents. 

About Leadership Houston 

Leadership Houston was formed in 1982 with the goal of bringing together leaders from different communities to increase dialogue, and foster collaboration on projects that would improve the quality of life for all Houstonians. The founders’ vision was to expose these leaders to civic issues that they may be unaware of and inspire them to expand their involvement within the community. 

Media Contact

Elyssa Pachico
[email protected]

Most Read

  • Publications
  • Blog Posts
  • Past:
  • Trending