June 20, 2023
A record 100 million people around the globe were forced to flee their homes in 2022, up from 65 million in 2015. Of those displaced last year, 32.5 million were refugees who had to leave their country in fear of persecution due to their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or group membership. Political debates on how to handle recent refugees often focus on questions of humanitarian obligation or public safety concerns. While these are critical considerations, they fail to capture what many Americans experience as the most enduring legacy of refugees: the positive social and economic impact these newcomers have on their cities and towns.This report builds on the previous work published by New American Economy (now a part of the American Immigration Council) and provides updated analyses of how recent refugees are contributing to the U.S. economy. Using the 5-year American Community Survey (ACS) from 2019, we identify a pool of nearly 2.4 million likely refugees based on their country of origin and year of arrival in the United States. This method is conservative in nature but provides us with a large and representative picture of the 3.5 million refugees who have arrived since 1975. The results our work produces are clear. Refugees pay tens of billions of dollars in taxes each year. And in a country where immigrants have long been known to be more likely than the U.S.-born to start businesses, refugees show a particular willingness to make such long-term investments in the country. They found companies, become U.S. citizens, and buy homes at notably high rates.