Immigrants Accounted for Nearly One Quarter of the Region’s Population Growth Between 2011 and 2016

August 1st, 2018

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Immigrants in Fort Wayne and Northeast Indiana accounted for 24.7 percent of overall population growth in the region from 2011 to 2016. While the total population grew by 2.2 percent, the immigrant population increased by 13.3 percent, according to a new report by New American Economy (NAE), in partnership with Welcoming Fort Wayne, the Associated Churches of Fort Wayne & Allen County and the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership.

The data in the new report illustrates the role that the immigrant population in Northeast Indiana plays in the local labor force, as well as their contributions to the region’s recent population growth.

“As we drive to increase our regional population to one million by 2030, we know from the examples we have seen in other cities that immigrants play an enormous role in filling our workforce, schools and tax rolls. Looking at the data in this report, the fact that almost 25 percent of our growth between 2011 and 2016 comes from immigrants underlines that conclusion,” said Michael Galbraith, director of the Road to One Million at the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership.

Though they account for 4.5 percent of the region’s overall population, immigrants represent 5.9 percent of the working-age population and 5.2 percent of its employed labor force. In the manufacturing industry, immigrants make up 7.6 percent of the workforce, totaling 1,299 local jobs that would have otherwise vanished or moved elsewhere.

In addition to the impact on regional population growth, data shows immigrants in the region have $472.8 million in spending power. Immigrants paid $161.3 million in taxes in 2016, with $104.4 million in federal taxes and $56.9 million in state and local taxes.

"For hundreds of years, diverse peoples have come to call Northeast Indiana home. Fort Wayne’s European roots run deep, and without a rich immigration history, our community wouldn’t be what it is today. Newcomers continue to migrate to Northeast Indiana from all corners of the globe seeking a better life, and the data in this report substantiates what many of us believed to be true – that they’re critical to the economic vitality of our community. My hope is that professional research like this continues in order to deepen our understanding of a larger immigrant narrative in Northeast Indiana," said Melissa Rinehart with Welcoming Fort Wayne.

Roger Reece, executive director of Associated Churches of Fort Wayne and Allen County, also echoed the importance of the region’s welcoming role as an immigrant-friendly community. 

“Fort Wayne has a rich history where the faith communities and churches cared for and nurtured new foreign-born members into the community. The churches of Fort Wayne not only ministered to their spiritual life, but also preserved their ethnic identity, provided a place of socialization and education for their children, and helped them to adapt to this new American environment. It is a story of a pioneer community that wished to be known as ‘A City of Churches.’ Associated Churches of Fort Wayne and Allen County encourages the voices of our faith to speak again, to befriend, to care for, and nurture the strangers amongst us,” said Reece.

The report includes these key findings:

  • Foreign-born residents paid $161.3 million in taxes in Northeast Indiana in 2016. Immigrant households earned $634.1 million in income in 2016. Of that, $104.4 million went to federal taxes and $56.9 million went to state and local taxes, leaving them with $472.8 million in spending power.
  • Immigrants accounted for 24.7 percent of overall population growth in the region from 2011 to 2016. While the total population grew by 2.2 percent, the immigrant population increased by 13.3 percent.
  • Despite making up just 4.5 percent of the overall population, immigrants played an large role in the employed labor force in 2016. Foreign-born workers represented 5.9 percent of Northeast Indiana’s working-age population and 5.2 percent of its employed labor force that year.
  • Immigrants play a critical role in several key industries in the region, including STEM fields. Foreign-born workers made up 7.1 percent of all workers in construction and 6.5 percent of workers in hospitality and recreation. They also made up 4.8 percent of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) workers, higher than their share of the population.
  • Over 1,000 students enrolled in colleges and universities in the region during the fall of 2015 were temporary residents. These students supported 215 local jobs and contributed $36.1 million in spending in the 2016-17 academic year.
  • Immigrants in Northeast Indiana were more likely than their U.S.-born counterparts to have an advanced degree in 2016. 9.3 percent of immigrants had an advanced degree, compared to 7.5 percent of the U.S.-born residents.
  • Nearly half of immigrants in the region—41.5%, or nearly 12,000 individuals— were naturalized citizens in 2016.

“Fort Wayne knows firsthand how cities can use immigration to stoke the local economy,” said John Feinblatt, President of New American Economy. “The numbers show that across Northeast Indiana, immigrants help grow the tax base, drive demand and create American jobs.”

Data comes from 5-year samples of the American Community Survey from 2011 and 2016, and figures refer to the Combined Statistical Area of Fort Wayne-Huntington-Auburn, Indiana, including the counties of Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, Noble, Steuben, Wells and Whitley.

The study was funded by the Gateways for Growth Challenge. Northeast Indiana was one of 44 communities selected for the Gateways for Growth Challenge, a competitive opportunity from New American Economy and Welcoming America where local communities receive tailored research on the contributions of immigrants, direct technical assistance to develop multi-sector plans for welcoming and integrating immigrants, or matching grants.

To learn more, visit the website at

About the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership
The Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership’s mission is to build, market and sell Northeast Indiana to increase business investment. Founded in 2006, the public-private partnership strives to build a globally competitive region. The Partnership’s Vision 2030 framework supports collaborative regional efforts to increase per capita income, population growth and educational attainment by focusing on business attraction, talent attraction and talent development. The Partnership represents 11 member counties: Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, Wabash, Wells and Whitley counties. For more information, visit

Melissa Rinehart
Welcoming Fort Wayne
Roger Reece
Executive Director
Associated Churches of Fort Wayne and Allen County
Kate Virag
Vice President of Marketing & Strategic Communications
Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership

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