Colorado's foreign-born population - from first-generation farmworkers to highly skilled scientists at the state's universities - contributed an estimated $42 billion to the Colorado economy in 2011, according to a new study.
The study, based on economic-modeling software and data from the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Service surveys, found that one in 10 Coloradans is foreign-born and that 305,000 of them work in the state.
Immigrant labor accounted for 18.1 percent of construction employment; 16 percent of workers in the entertainment, hotel and services industry; and 8 percent of the manufacturing sector. Immigrants make up 9 percent of Colorado's entrepreneurs.
"Foreign-born people who live and work in Colorado have a significant impact on the economy," said Terry Scanlon with the Colorado Center on Law & Policy, which worked on the study with Colorado economist Christopher Stiffler.
The study found that immigrants make up 11.4 percent of the Colorado workforce even though immigrants account for 9.7 percent of the population.
There are an estimated 57,759 foreign-born workers in Colorado's food-service and drinking establishments, 24,598 in wholesale trade, 16,036 in real estate and 14,178 in health-care offices. In construction, there are 31,940 immigrant workers.
The study does not look at how many of the workers counted are undocumented. The Colorado Center on Law & Policy is completing another study that will delve more into the impact of that population.
The study released Friday estimated the foreign-born economic impact on Colorado by calculating the "ripple effect" of their earning and spending. For every 10 immigrants employed in Colorado, an additional seven jobs are created, the study found.
Andrew Ball, a policy analyst with the Law & Policy Center, said one of the surprises of the study was how broad the foreign-born worker impact is in a wide array of industries.