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State economies most and least impacted by immigration

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Pixabay

State economies most and least impacted by immigration

The heated debate in the United States over immigration often raises questions about the economic value—or cost—of the nation's immigrants.

Some policymakers blame foreign-born workers for taking coveted jobs and slowing wage growth. Others argue that immigrants in the workforce fuel innovation; bring education, skills, and specializations; and make significant contributions to economic productivity. They use their wages to buy consumer goods, services, houses, and businesses that create jobs for other workers.

To look at which states benefit the most (and least) from immigration, Stacker looked at data from WalletHub, a personal finance website, which compared the economic impact of foreign-born populations in the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. It analyzed 20 indicators such as immigrants' income levels, rate of home ownership, the share of businesses they own, and how many are so-called STEM workers—those in science, technology, engineering or mathematics.

Using such factors, it measured how much states benefit from their immigrant populations, the socioeconomic contributions of foreign-born residents, the brain gain of skills and experience provided by highly educated immigrants, and the economic role played by international students.

It looked at states' shares of foreign-born workers, the number of work visas per capita, second-generation households, Fortune 500 Companies founded by immigrants or their children, and jobs created by the economic contributions of international students.

WalletHub ranked the states and the District of Columbia according to how much or how little their economies benefit from immigrants. It used data from a range of sources, including the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Academy of Sciences, American Immigration Council, and Center for American Entrepreneurship.

States such as Maryland stand out for having the highest median household income among its immigrant residents, while New Mexico had the lowest. The District of Columbia had the highest share of foreign-born adults with college educations, Wyoming had the smallest percentage of foreign-born STEM workers.

Overall, find out which state has benefited the most economically from its immigrant population and which state the least.

You may also like:States with the most diverse economies

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Staff Sgt. Scott Tynes // Wikimedia Commons

#51. Mississippi

- Total score: 13.2
- Workforce rank: #50 among all states
- Socioeconomic contribution rank: #46
- Brain gain & innovation rank: #49
- International students rank: #49

Mississippi has the distinction of being the state, based on a host of economic factors, least affected by immigration. The Southern state ranks among the lowest in terms of jobs generated by immigrant-owned businesses and having few foreign-born workers in fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

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Lorie Shaull // Flickr

#50. Wyoming

- Total score: 15.1
- Workforce rank: #48 among all states
- Socioeconomic contribution rank: #37
- Brain gain & innovation rank: #51
- International students rank: #44

With the least number of residents of all the 50 states, Wyoming ranks second from the bottom in terms of overall immigration economic impact. It is also at the bottom of the rankings for brain gain—the percentage of highly trained, foreign-born professionals in its workforce.

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GoodFreePhotos

#49. South Dakota

- Total score: 15.7
- Workforce rank: #44 among all states
- Socioeconomic contribution rank: #49
- Brain gain & innovation rank: #48
- International students rank: #40

South Dakota hovers just above the bottom, ranking overall in 49th place for the socioeconomic contribution made by immigrants, a measure that takes into account factors such as immigrant-owned businesses, foreign-born home ownership, and income generated by immigrant households.

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Pixabay // Picryl

#48. Montana

- Total score: 15.9
- Workforce rank: #51 among all states
- Socioeconomic contribution rank: #33
- Brain gain & innovation rank: #45
- International students rank: #45

Montana benefits little from immigration, ranking last in the nation in terms of the economic role of immigrants in its workforce. That includes the state's share of foreign-born workers, jobs generated by immigrant-owned businesses and its foreign-owned businesses.

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Charles Knowles // Shutterstock

#47. Idaho

- Total score: 18.0
- Workforce rank: #47 among all states
- Socioeconomic contribution rank: #30
- Brain gain & innovation rank: #50
- International students rank: #41

Idaho joins its Western neighbors Wyoming and Montana as states where immigrants have little economic impact. It is among the states with the fewest foreign-born adults with bachelor's degrees or higher, and its foreign-born population has among the lowest median household incomes in the country.

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John Moore // Getty Images

#46. Maine

- Total score: 19.9
- Workforce rank: #45 among all states
- Socioeconomic contribution rank: #31
- Brain gain & innovation rank: #41
- International students rank: #50

Maine is the only New England state that has seen little economic impact from immigration. It stands in the 46th position vis-à-vis share of foreign-born workers, foreign-owned businesses, and other immigrant-related factors in its workforce.

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f11photo // Shutterstock

#45. South Carolina

- Total score: 20.1
- Workforce rank: #30 among all states
- Socioeconomic contribution rank: #44
- Brain gain & innovation rank: #40
- International students rank: #47

South Carolina ranks near the bottom in terms of the economic contribution of international students and its share of Fortune 500 companies founded by immigrants or their children.

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GTS Productions // Shutterstock

#44. Louisiana

- Total score: 20.3
- Workforce rank: #31 among all states
- Socioeconomic contribution rank: #51
- Brain gain & innovation rank: #34
- International students rank: #39

Louisiana, known worldwide for its music, cuisine, and culture, is last among the 50 states when measuring the socioeconomic contribution of immigrants. The calculation takes into account the state's share of foreign-born residents and the income and jobs they generate.

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Christopher Boswell // Shutterstock

#43. Arkansas

- Total score: 20.9
- Workforce rank: #37 among all states
- Socioeconomic contribution rank: #43
- Brain gain & innovation rank: #38
- International students rank: #42

Immigration has had little economic impact on Arkansas.. After West Virginia, it has the lowest percentage of jobs generated by immigrant-owned businesses.

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f11photo // Shutterstock

#42. Tennessee

- Total score: 21.1
- Workforce rank: #33 among all states
- Socioeconomic contribution rank: #45
- Brain gain & innovation rank: #37
- International students rank: #43

Analyzing the socioeconomic contribution of immigrants, such as the income generated by immigrant-owned businesses, Tennessee is among the lowest-ranking states in the nation. Overall it places 42nd in terms of immigrant impact.

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David Harmantas // Shutterstock

#41. North Dakota

- Total score: 21.2
- Workforce rank: #25 among all states
- Socioeconomic contribution rank: #48
- Brain gain & innovation rank: #42
- International students rank: #34

With roughly three-quarters of a million residents, North Dakota scores near the bottom as far as socioeconomic contributions made by immigrants. Its sits squarely in the middle, in 25th place, however, in its share of foreign-born workers and foreign-born business owners and other workforce-related factors.

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Danneellah // Shutterstock

#40. Oklahoma

- Total score: 21.7
- Workforce rank: #41 among all states
- Socioeconomic contribution rank: #34
- Brain gain & innovation rank: #43
- International students rank: #32

Oklahoma ranks ninth from last in terms of the impact of immigration on its economy. The state of prairies and plains has nearly the nation's lowest percentage of foreign-born adults with college degrees or higher.

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Steve Heap // Shutterstock

#39. West Virginia

- Total score: 21.7
- Workforce rank: #49 among all states
- Socioeconomic contribution rank: #42
- Brain gain & innovation rank: #36
- International students rank: #26

West Virginia has the nation's lowest share of jobs generated by immigrant-owned businesses out of its total jobs. Also, it is third from the bottom in terms of the percentage of immigrants in its workforce and business ownership. It does rank second in the nation, however, for its share of foreign-born adults with bachelor's degrees or higher.

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Kevin Ruck // Shutterstock

#38. Alabama

- Total score: 22.8
- Workforce rank: #46 among all states
- Socioeconomic contribution rank: #47
- Brain gain & innovation rank: #27
- International students rank: #38

Factors such as the size of its foreign-born population and number of second-generation immigrant households put Alabama at 47th place as far as the socioeconomic contribution of immigrants. Its percentage of foreign-born workers and business owners puts the state one rung lower nationwide.

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George Frey // Getty Images

#37. Utah

- Total score: 23.6
- Workforce rank: #29 among all states
- Socioeconomic contribution rank: #28
- Brain gain & innovation rank: #44
- International students rank: #36

When it comes to the impact of immigration on Utah, there is little benefits from brain gain and innovation. But it moves up to 29th place as far as its share of foreign-born scientists, academics, and other highly skilled workers and professionals.

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Dave Kotinsky // Getty Images for ITI Data

#36. Nebraska

- Total score: 23.7
- Workforce rank: #42 among all states
- Socioeconomic contribution rank: #39
- Brain gain & innovation rank: #33
- International students rank: #22

The agricultural state of Nebraska ranks among states with the lowest numbers of businesses with foreign-born owners and visas issues to foreign-born workers. It does jump into the top half of states, however, for the number of international students in its statewide student body and the economic contributions they make.

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Ruth Peterkin // Shutterstock

#35. Alaska

- Total score: 24.6
- Workforce rank: #27 among all states
- Socioeconomic contribution rank: #15
- Brain gain & innovation rank: #46
- International students rank: #51

Sparsely populated Alaska trails all the other states in foreign-born students. It reaps the lowest economic contribution of international students per capita, such as their purchase of education services, housing, food and transportation, and other items; it also has the smallest share of jobs created by international students.

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PAUL RATJE/AFP // Getty Images

#34. New Mexico

- Total score: 24.9
- Workforce rank: #24 among all states
- Socioeconomic contribution rank: #21
- Brain gain & innovation rank: #47
- International students rank: #46

New Mexico gets little brain gain from foreign-born educated workers, but does rank in the top half of states for the size of the socioeconomic contribution made by immigrants. Its foreign-born population has the lowest median household income in the country, just half of the highest median household income, found in Maryland. It also has the smallest share of foreign-born adults with college educations.

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jessica.kirsh // Shutterstock

#33. Kentucky

- Total score: 26.6
- Workforce rank: #40 among all states
- Socioeconomic contribution rank: #50
- Brain gain & innovation rank: #17
- International students rank: #35

In 33rd place overall in terms of immigration's impact, Kentucky is second lowest, only behind Louisiana, when measuring the socioeconomic contribution made by immigrants. It jumps to 17th place on the basis of how much it benefits from brain gain and innovators, including the size of its foreign-born population with bachelor's degrees or higher.

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f11photo // Shutterstock

#32. Iowa

- Total score: 28.1
- Workforce rank: #43 among all states
- Socioeconomic contribution rank: #38
- Brain gain & innovation rank: #29
- International students rank: #11

Iowa registers scant economic impact from foreign-born workforce, but it benefits from its international students, their economic contributions, and the jobs they create. It ranks 11th in the country based on economic gains from immigrant students.

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John Arehart // Shutterstock

#31. Vermont

- Total score: 28.4
- Workforce rank: #36 among all states
- Socioeconomic contribution rank: #23
- Brain gain & innovation rank: #35
- International students rank: #16

Vermont sits in the middle third of states in terms of the impact made by immigrants overall on its economy. But it fares well from its foreign-born students, placing 16th for its share of international students and their economic contributions.

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Mark Reinstein // Shutterstock

#30. Kansas

- Total score: 29.1
- Workforce rank: #32 among all states
- Socioeconomic contribution rank: #35
- Brain gain & innovation rank: #25
- International students rank: #24

Of the measures used to assess the economic impact of immigration, brain gain from educated foreign-born workers puts Kansas in 25th place among all the states. Looking at the numbers and contributions of its international students, Kansas moves a notch higher into 24th place.

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Pixabay // Picryl

#29. Wisconsin

- Total score: 29.5
- Workforce rank: #39 among all states
- Socioeconomic contribution rank: #36
- Brain gain & innovation rank: #19
- International students rank: #33

Wisconsin ranks in the bottom third of states as far as the impact of immigrants in its workforce and their socioeconomic contributions. But it fares better, moving to 19th place, when calculating the brain gain and innovation derived from its educated foreign-born workers

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Aceshot1 // Shutterstock

#28. Ohio

- Total score: 30.7
- Workforce rank: #35 among all states
- Socioeconomic contribution rank: #32
- Brain gain & innovation rank: #24
- International students rank: #18

Ohio ranks high, in fourth place, based on its share of foreign-born adults who have bachelor's degrees or higher. However, it drops to 18th place in terms of contributions made by its international students. And its overall ranking for the benefits it gets from immigration is far lower.

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Patawee // Shutterstock

#27. Indiana

- Total score: 31.9
- Workforce rank: #34 among all states
- Socioeconomic contribution rank: #41
- Brain gain & innovation rank: #23
- International students rank: #7

Compared with other U.S. states, Indiana does not reap much in the way of socioeconomic contributions from foreign-born workers, ranking 41st. But the contributions of its international students move the state up to seventh place compared with the rest of the country.

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f11photo // Shutterstock

#26. Colorado

- Total score: 32.5
- Workforce rank: #23 among all states
- Socioeconomic contribution rank: #24
- Brain gain & innovation rank: #26
- International students rank: #30

Colorado ranks in the middle compared with other states as far as its immigrant workforce and their economic contributions. But it drops in contrast to most other states in terms of how few international students it has and how few jobs they create directly or indirectly.

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Missouri News Horizon // Flickr

#25. Missouri

- Total score: 32.5
- Workforce rank: #38 among all states
- Socioeconomic contribution rank: #40
- Brain gain & innovation rank: #16
- International students rank: #14

Missouri shows little benefit from its foreign-born workforce, such as the number of business owners who were not born in the U.S. But it does benefit from brain gain and the contributions of international students, ranking 14th based on their economic impact.

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Sean Pavone // Shutterstock

#24. New Hampshire

- Total score: 33.1
- Workforce rank: #26 among all states
- Socioeconomic contribution rank: #18
- Brain gain & innovation rank: #30
- International students rank: #17

The benefits of international students and what they bring to the economy put New Hampshire in 17th place compared with the rest of the country. Yet when measuring brain gain, the state drops to 30th place.

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Josemaria Toscano // Shutterstock

#23. Oregon

- Total score: 34.6
- Workforce rank: #22 among all states
- Socioeconomic contribution rank: #16
- Brain gain & innovation rank: #31
- International students rank: #20

Oregon's economy benefits from its share of international students and its well-educated foreign-born workers. The socioeconomic contributions of immigrants in the state, such as the median household income of its foreign-born residents, put Oregon in 16th position among all the states.

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Kait_P // Pixabay

#22. Minnesota

- Total score: 35.2
- Workforce rank: #28 among all states
- Socioeconomic contribution rank: #27
- Brain gain & innovation rank: #14
- International students rank: #25

The economic benefits made by educated workers born outside the U.S. propel Minnesota into 14th place. It fares less well, falling to 28th place, when measuring the numbers of its foreign-born workers and business owners.

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Daniel Weiss // Unsplash

#21. North Carolina

- Total score: 35.5
- Workforce rank: #21 among all states
- Socioeconomic contribution rank: #25
- Brain gain & innovation rank: #18
- International students rank: #37

North Carolina's economy gets a brain gain from its educated immigrant workforce. Yet when gauging the role that international students play, their economic contributions push the state down to 37th place.

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Sean Pavone // Shutterstock

#20. Rhode Island

- Total score: 40.2
- Workforce rank: #18 among all states
- Socioeconomic contribution rank: #17
- Brain gain & innovation rank: #32
- International students rank: #4

The economic contribution of international students puts Rhode Island in fourth place compared with the rest of the country. The percentage of jobs created by the presence of those international students also earns Rhode Island, the nation's smallest state, the fourth-highest spot.

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Pexels

#19. Georgia

- Total score: 41.9
- Workforce rank: #17 among all states
- Socioeconomic contribution rank: #19
- Brain gain & innovation rank: #15
- International students rank: #29

The Southern state of Georgia benefits more than most states in terms of its foreign-born workforce and the economic contributions they make. But it ranks in the bottom half, at 29th place, in terms of the economic role played by international students.

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IIP Photo Archive // Flickr

#18. Arizona

- Total score: 43.8
- Workforce rank: #16 among all states
- Socioeconomic contribution rank: #10
- Brain gain & innovation rank: #28
- International students rank: #15

The median household income of foreign-born residents in Arizona is the third lowest in the country. Only Arkansas and New Mexico have incomes that are lower. But Arizona ranks 10th for the socioeconomic contribution of immigrants, including its share of second-generation immigrant households.

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Tupungato // Shutterstock

#17. Pennsylvania

- Total score: 45.5
- Workforce rank: #20 among all states
- Socioeconomic contribution rank: #29
- Brain gain & innovation rank: #8
- International students rank: #6

Pennsylvania is fifth among U.S. states in terms of jobs created by international students. Calculating the contributions made to the state economy by those students per capita, Pennsylvania ranks in sixth place compared with the rest of the nation.

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Kirk Hewlitt // Shutterstock

#16. Michigan

- Total score: 45.8
- Workforce rank: #19 among all states
- Socioeconomic contribution rank: #22
- Brain gain & innovation rank: #6
- International students rank: #13

Michigan is among the states with the most brain gain, benefiting from the skills and innovations of educated foreign-born workers. When measuring the broader socioeconomic impact of its immigrants, however, it ranks only 22nd.

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Pixabay

#15. Hawaii

- Total score: 46.5
- Workforce rank: #14 among all states
- Socioeconomic contribution rank: #2
- Brain gain & innovation rank: #39
- International students rank: #28

More than all other states except California, Hawaii benefits from the socio-economic contribution of immigrants. It ranks third in the percentage of jobs generated by immigrant-owned businesses and can boast the fifth-highest median household income of foreign-born residents.

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PAUL RATJE/AFP // Getty Images

#14. Texas

- Total score: 49.1
- Workforce rank: #8 among all states
- Socioeconomic contribution rank: #12
- Brain gain & innovation rank: #20
- International students rank: #21

The giant border state of Texas is among the states that benefit most from an immigrant workforce. It ranks eighth in the nation because of its share of foreign-born workers and business owners and the jobs they create.

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randy andy // Shutterstock

#13. Nevada

- Total score: 49.9
- Workforce rank: #6 among all states
- Socioeconomic contribution rank: #5
- Brain gain & innovation rank: #22
- International students rank: #48

Nevada—along with Alabama, Delaware, and Kansas—has the highest share of Fortune 500 companies founded by immigrants or their children. But it has one of the smallest shares of foreign-born adults with bachelor's degrees or higher and gets little economic benefit from international students.

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Chip Somodevilla // Getty Images

#12. Virginia

- Total score: 52.5
- Workforce rank: #15 among all states
- Socioeconomic contribution rank: #11
- Brain gain & innovation rank: #9
- International students rank: #27

In Virginia, foreign-born residents have the nation's second-highest median income, following only Maryland. Virginia ranks in the top 10 among states benefiting from brain gain.

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James Kirkikis // Shutterstock

#11. Connecticut

- Total score: 55.3
- Workforce rank: #10 among all states
- Socioeconomic contribution rank: #8
- Brain gain & innovation rank: #13
- International students rank: #10

The socioeconomic contributions of immigrants in Connecticut put in eighth place. It ranks high as well in terms of its percentage of workers who are foreign-born and its percentage of second-generation immigrant households.

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Karen Ducey // Getty Images

#10. Washington

- Total score: 55.8
- Workforce rank: #13 among all states
- Socioeconomic contribution rank: #13
- Brain gain & innovation rank: #5
- International students rank: #12

Washington sports one of the highest percentages in the country of Fortune 500 companies founded by immigrants or their children. It also profits from brain gain and innovation from educated immigrants, ranking fifth in the country.

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Matt Briney // Unsplash

#9. Florida

- Total score: 55.9
- Workforce rank: #4 among all states
- Socioeconomic contribution rank: #7
- Brain gain & innovation rank: #21
- International students rank: #31

Florida has one of the nation's highest shares of jobs created by immigrant-owned businesses. It also benefits greatly, in seventh place, from socioeconomic contributions made by its immigrant population.

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Scott Olson // Getty Images

#8. Illinois

- Total score: 55.9
- Workforce rank: #7 among all states
- Socioeconomic contribution rank: #14
- Brain gain & innovation rank: #11
- International students rank: #9

The contribution of international students to the economy of Illinois is one of the biggest in the country—ninth among all states. Illinois also places seventh in terms of foreign-born workers, such as share of doctors who graduated from international medical schools.

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Ritu Manaj Jethani // Shutterstock

#7. Delaware

- Total score: 56.9
- Workforce rank: #12 among all states
- Socioeconomic contribution rank: #20
- Brain gain & innovation rank: #1
- International students rank: #5

Delaware leads the country in brain gain and innovations from foreign-born workers. It has one of the highest percentages of jobs generated by immigrant-owned businesses, one of the highest percentages of foreign-born STEM workers, and ranks at the top in terms of Fortune 500 companies founded by immigrants or their children.

 

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BlackMac // Shutterstock

#6. District of Columbia

- Total score: 57.4
- Workforce rank: #5 among all states
- Socioeconomic contribution rank: #26
- Brain gain & innovation rank: #12
- International students rank: #1

The District of Columbia tops the 50 states in contributions made by international students. The nation's capital is also home to the highest percentage of foreign-born adults with bachelor's degrees or higher.

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ROD LAMKEY JR./AFP // Getty Images

#5. Maryland

- Total score: 59.1
- Workforce rank: #11 among all states
- Socioeconomic contribution rank: #6
- Brain gain & innovation rank: #7
- International students rank: #19

Maryland's foreign-born residents have the highest median household income in the U.S.—twice that of last-place New Mexico. Maryland sits among the top 10 states reaping socioeconomic contributions from its immigrant population and benefiting from the experience and skills provided by its college-educated immigrant workers.

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IIP Photo Archive // Flickr

#4. Massachusetts

- Total score: 61.1
- Workforce rank: #9 among all states
- Socioeconomic contribution rank: #9
- Brain gain & innovation rank: #10
- International students rank: #1

More than any other state, Massachusetts benefits from international students. Along with New York and the District of Columbia, it has the biggest share of jobs created by the presence of those students. The economic impact of foreign-born students in Massachusetts is more than 50 times their impact on the state at the opposite end of the scale, Alaska.

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Drew Angerer // Getty Images

#3. New Jersey

- Total score: 70.6
- Workforce rank: #1 among all states
- Socioeconomic contribution rank: #3
- Brain gain & innovation rank: #3
- International students rank: #23

New Jersey gains the most of all 50 states from its share of foreign-born workers. It ranks at the top in its share of foreign-born STEM workers, more than 50 times the share of such workers in Wyoming, which trails the nation. New Jersey is behind only California in having the highest percentage of jobs generated by immigrant-owned businesses, and the median household income of its foreign-born residents is the country's fourth highest.

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ANGELA WEISS/AFP // Getty Images

#2. New York

- Total score: 74.6
- Workforce rank: #3 among all states
- Socioeconomic contribution rank: #4
- Brain gain & innovation rank: #2
- International students rank: #1

New York stands above the other states in the economic gains from international students. The foreign-born student body creates a higher percentage of jobs than those in nearly all other states, and New York ranks at the top in its share of STEM workers born outside the U.S.

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David McNew // Getty Images

#1. California

- Total score: 77.0
- Workforce rank: #2 among all states
- Socioeconomic contribution rank: #1
- Brain gain & innovation rank: #4
- International students rank: #8

Among all states, California gains the most in socioeconomic contributions from immigrants. It has the greatest percentage of jobs generated by immigrant-owned businesses, seven times as many jobs as are generated by those types of businesses in West Virginia, which has the smallest share in the nation. California has the highest percentage of foreign-born STEM workers, tied with New York, New Jersey, and Delaware.

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