Welcoming to All

Good article in the New York Times about how high skill immigrants are major contributors to economic growth. It cites a study they commissioned to look at the role immigrants have played on economic growth since 1990 in the twenty five largest metropolitan areas. Consistent with other research they found that the metros doing the best are those with the most immigration.

Contrary to the popular perception of immigrants being either primarily low wage workers or on government funded social assistance, the study found in fourteen of the twenty five largest metros that a majority of immigrants were in higher paying white collar jobs. For all twenty five metros the study found that immigrants were evenly distributed across the job and income spectrum. Other research has found that immigrants are an important source of new businesses – particularly in technology.

The lesson we should learn from this research is that the places with the greatest concentration of talent from anyplace on the planet win! Talent is mobile. Talent also comes from every category of people. A core characteristic of successful places in a flattening world will be that they are welcoming to all. Not an attribute that one normally associates with Michigan – particularly metro Detroit. The place that probably has the most to gain from attracting immigrants is the City of Detroit. But Detroit has probably been the least welcoming in the past.  If we want to grow our economy, that needs to change!

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