Introduction 5 workforce with their strong work ethic. Not only do they bring innovation to such sectors as high tech, healthcare, and medical research but they also fill essential jobs that most native-born Americans neither seek nor desire—for example, as agricultural laborers and housekeeping staff. Why Our Economy Depends on Immigrants Immigrants are critical to our economy. They educate, feed, entertain, protect, create jobs, and keep us healthy. In numerous industries, immi- grants play such a significant role that without their contribution, the sector would be in dire need of labor and would not be able to provide the broad range of services to which our society has become accustomed. Entrepreneurship and Job Creation In 2017, the 3.1 million immigrant entrepreneurs in the United States accounted for 20.6 percent of all entrepreneurs nationwide. Their businesses employed eight million people and amassed a total sales figure of $1.3 trillion that year. In recent years, immigrants have been particularly valuable entre- preneurs, for they are twice as likely today to start new businesses than their native-born counterparts. While the founding of new businesses by native- born Americans from 1996 to 2011 decreased by 10 percent, the founding of new immigrant businesses increased over that same period by 50 percent. In particular, refugees boast a higher rate of entrepreneurship in comparison to all immigrants, as do immigrants with less than a college degree in compari- son to immigrants with college degrees. In general, research has found that these immigrant businesses, from high-tech firms to smaller Main Street shops, create high-quality jobs with above-average wages, resulting in higher per capita income for everyone in communities where immigrants create new businesses. High Tech In 2016, the U.S. high-tech industry generated an output of $5.3 trillion, or 18.2 percent of the United States’ total annual output, with steady growth expected over the next decade. We can thank immigrant workers for this sector’s unparalleled growth, accounting for 21.5 percent of the nation’s STEM workers (relative to their 13.9 percent share of the total population). This percentage increases in our high-tech hubs. In Silicon Valley, foreign- born talent accounts for 57 percent of STEM professions requiring a bache- lor’s degree or higher. Immigrants also play an outsized role as tech company founders, with 60 percent of the highest-valued U.S. tech companies cofounded by first- or second-generation immigrants. Moreover, 51 percent
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