Immigrants and Opportunity in American Cities

Learn more about J.H. Cullum Clark.
J.H. Cullum Clark
Director, Bush Institute-SMU Economic Growth Initiative
George W. Bush Institute

New rankings from the Bush Institute-SMU Economic Growth Initiative provides recommendations for state and local leaders to welcome and keep immigrants

Some metropolitan areas far outperform others for immigrant well-being. Places where immigrants are thriving include centers for technology and other knowledge-centric industries, college towns, and metros that have been intentional in helping immigrants succeed. Within large metro areas, fast-growing suburban counties mostly perform well ahead of core urban counties for immigrant well-being.

Topping the rankings are technology centers like San Jose, San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, and Washington and tech and finance centers like Austin, Texas; Raleigh, North Carolina; Madison, Wisconsin; Colorado Springs, Colorado; and Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Connecticut.

Several mid-Atlantic and Midwestern metros like Baltimore; Pittsburgh; Cincinnati; Detroit; Dayton, Ohio; Akron, Ohio; St. Louis; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and Sioux Falls, South Dakota, stand out for their immigrant-welcoming initiatives. Unique economic positions elevate a handful of smaller metros like Rochester, Minnesota; Midland, Texas; and Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, Arkansas.

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Newly arriving immigrants are disproportionately choosing traditional “gateway” metros, though they increasingly settle in suburban rather than core areas within these metros. But immigrants making secondary moves within the United States are disproportionately choosing the same places as native-born people – metros with relatively affordable housing and growth-friendly business and tax policies. Once there, they gravitate toward fast-growing suburban counties.

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Read part one of the Blueprint for Opportunity Series

Read part two of the Blueprint for Opportunity Series