Refugees revitalizing Minnesota by contributing to economy and our communities

Clark Biegler
Oct 24, 2016

Refugees come to this country because they face persecution in their homelands, and the United States provides a safe space for them to rebuild their lives. A recent report shows that refugees are also important players in our country’s labor force and economy, and they work to become part of their new communities.

Refugee Integration in the United States, a joint report from the Center for American Progress and the Fiscal Policy Institute looks at how Somali, Burmese, Hmong and Bosnian refugees contribute to the economy when they come to the U.S. seeking a better life. Among the key findings:

  • Refugee men quickly join the workforce once in the United States, and in fact are often working at higher rates than U.S.-born men. Refugee women also join the workforce, and after 10 years are in the labor force at about the same rate as U.S.-born women.
  • Many refugees see substantial wage increases in their first 10 years in the country as they move into better jobs, and a significant number become business owners.
  • Refugees integrate themselves into their communities over time by learning English, buying homes and becoming U.S. citizens. More than three-quarters of Somali, Burmese, Hmong and Bosnian refugees become American citizens after 20 years.

The report also highlights the Twin Cities’ large refugee populations, pointing out that, “These refugee groups have played a significant role in the revitalization of Minneapolis and St. Paul; together with other immigrant groups, they have helped spur the cities’ population rebound after a mid-20th century decline.”

This report is an important reminder that refugees move to this country fleeing dangerous circumstances, and during their resettlement they relatively quickly join in the workforce, learn English and contribute to the communities where they settle.

-Clark Biegler