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Many of us hope 2024 will be a better year ahead and a new beginning. But for thousands of refugees living in precarious situations overseas and patiently waiting for resettlement in the U.S., living and working in the U.S. remains a beacon of hope for a better future in 2024 and beyond. When refugees join communities across our nation, many wonder how long it takes before a refugee family starts contributing to their local economy and how it affects the nation. Now data are available to demonstrate how much refugees do for the U.S. economy and all levels of government.

Today, HHS’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a landmark federal study, The Fiscal Impact of Refugees and Asylees at The Federal, State and Local Levels From 2005-2019 . In a groundbreaking analysis, this pivotal report examines the fiscal contributions and impacts of refugees and asylees on the U.S. economy and government budgets.

The study’s revelations are significant, illustrating a positive net fiscal impact of refugees on the U.S. economy over a 15-year span. Collectively, these groups have contributed a staggering $123.8 billion more than they have cost in governmental expenditures, showcasing their economic benefit. This figure is split between a $31.5 billion net benefit to the federal government and an approximate $92.3 billion boon to state and local governments. When looking at individual contributions made by refugees, they align closely with the income of the total U.S. population.  Overall, the U.S. government at both federal and state levels received a significant income from refugee contributions. Here’s how the details break down:

Net Fiscal Impact: The study breaks new ground in quantifying the financial contributions of refugees. Between 2005 and 2019, these individuals have collectively yielded a net positive fiscal impact of $123.8 billion, with significant contributions at both federal and state levels.

Government Revenue: Refugees have generated an estimated $581 billion for governments at all levels. This includes $363 billion in federal taxes, encompassing payroll, income, and excise taxes and $218 billion in state and local taxes, including income, sales and property taxes.

Government Expenditures: Over the same period, the total expenditure on refugees amounted to approximately $457.2 billion, with federal spending accounting for 72.5% of this total. State and local government expenditures comprised the remaining 27.5%.

While the study acknowledges certain limitations, such as its focus solely on populations served by HHS’ Office of Refugee Resettlement and the exclusion of other immigration statuses, it compellingly demonstrates the positive fiscal and cultural impact of the U.S. humanitarian program for refugees. This comprehensive analysis sheds light on the significant, often overlooked, contributions of these groups to the fabric of American society and its economy.

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