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Report: Refugees Boosting Michigan's Economy

DETROIT (WWJ) - A new report shows refugees resettling in southeast Michigan have given a boost to the economy at a time Washington wants to reduce their numbers.

Global Detroit Executive Director Steve Tobocman say their study, in conjunction with the University of Michigan Ford School of Public Policy, finds the 21,000 refugees, mostly from Iraq, who put down stakes in metro Detroit are responsible for nearly $300 million in economic activity each year.

"You bring 21,000 people into the region -- these are people who are consuming goods, that are working the labor force, that start businesses -- and what you'll see is the economy grow," he said.

Tobocman says refugees do quite well after they get settled into the area.

"What we see down the road is that refugees and immigrants start businesses at a much higher rates than America-born, and sometimes we talk about that as being the entrepreneurship of necessity," he said. "After 25 years, we see the average refugee household earning $67,000 a year compared to $55,000 a year for an average U.S. household."

And education might be key -- over 60 percent of refugees have at least a bachelor's degree, which is more than double the average of American-born residents in Michigan.

"It's a combination of pursuing education, having high skills, higher labor force participation rates, as well as much higher business ownership," said Tobocman.

Southeast Michigan is home to one of the nation's largest refugee communities, welcoming the fourth largest number of refugees over the last decade.

President Donald Trump says a maximum of 45,000 refugees will be allowed into the U.S. in fiscal year 2018 — the lowest cap in decades.


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