Sunflower Fields Photo by Derek Giovanni

California’s Success Depends on Immigrants

Report Highlights Crucial Role of Immigrants in the California Economy

The state’s 10 million immigrants produce one-third of California’s economic output but still face severe inequality.

California is home to 10 million immigrants, including nearly 3 million undocumented residents. At a time of uncertainty and fear for immigrant populations around the country, a new report from Haas, Jr. Fund grantee California Immigrant Policy Center (CIPC) shows the crucial role of these workers, parents, and children in the economic and civic life of the state.

Among the eye-opening data in the report is the finding that immigrants are more than one-third (35 percent) of the state’s civilian, non-institutional workforce, and they are responsible for nearly one-third (32 percent) of California’s economic output.

At $715 billion, the immigrant contribution to California’s GDP is more than the total revenue of Wal-Mart in 2016. Undocumented immigrants alone contribute about $181 billion to the California economy, more than the economic output of the entire state of Oklahoma.

Despite these contributions, immigrant communities in California face a growing crisis of severe economic inequality. The CIPC report shows how economic hardship is a common challenge for both immigrant and U.S.-born workers in the state. It also includes short case studies of immigrant neighborhoods where residents are grappling with challenges such as gentrification and displacement.