Fact Sheet: Economic Benefits of Diversity and Inclusion and Costs of Discrimination and Isolationism

An equitable economy is a healthy economy. Seattle’s economy is one of the fastest growing in the nation. The City of Seattle embraces immigrants and refugees and helps them integrate into our economy and welcomes them as neighbors. Doing so supports job growth and a healthy small business ecosystem, and attracts incredible companies to do business in our region.

“The City of Seattle and the Seattle Office of Economic Development remain committed to building a more equitable and welcoming economy,” Office of Economic Development Director Brian Surratt said. “Not only is equity a moral imperative, equity and inclusion are essential ingredients for a healthy economy.”

  • Allowing current undocumented immigrants to become citizens will benefit the economy: Based on Pew Research’s estimate of 250,000 undocumented immigrants in Washington state, naturalizing every undocumented immigrant in Washington state would grow the state’s GDP by $31.5 billion over 10 years, according to an analysis by Robert Lynch and Patrick Oakford of the Center for American Progress.[i]
  • Expanding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA) and the Deferred Actions for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) would lead to growth in both the United States economy and the Washington state economy: A state-by-state analysis from the Center for American Progress found that the U.S. economy would grow by $230 billion over ten years, Washington state’s by $4 billion, and the cumulative earnings of all Washington residents would increase by $2.2 billion if DACA and DAPA were expanded. They explained that this is because “If allowed an opportunity to receive temporary work permits, these immigrants will likely experience significant wage gains. These work permits will allow them to get jobs that better match their skills and protect against workplace exploitation such as wage theft. The increase in income of undocumented immigrants means that they will have more to spend on everyday goods and services. This increase in demand will have a ripple effect throughout the state’s economy, increasing the incomes of all state residents and creating jobs for all.”[ii]
  • Losing and replacing workers who quit due to discrimination hinders economic growth: Per Policy Link and the
    Marguerite Casey Foundation’s memo, LGBTQ Inclusion: Good for Families, Communities, and the Economy, 42% of LGBT workers report experiencing some form of employment discrimination. The memo also found that the annual cost of losing and replacing workers who quit their job due to discrimination is $64 billion.[iii]
  • The Economic Policy Institute found that America’s working class is set to become majority people of color by 2032.[iv]
  • Adding diversity to both the local and national economy has immense benefits: According to Just and Fair Employment for All: Good for Families, Communities and the Economy, a study from Policy Link and the Marguerite Casey Foundation, full employment for all racial, ethnic, and gender groups would positively impact the economy. They estimate that 14.3 million more people would be employed, 9.3 million fewer people would be living in poverty, and we would see a $1.3 trillion increase in national GDP. They also reported that the entry of women and people of color into professional occupations accounts for up to 20 percent of U.S. economic growth from 1960 to 2008.[v]
  • Closing the racial income gap will grow the economy: The Equity Solution: Racial Inclusion is Key to Growing a Strong Economy, from Policy Link and the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity, concluded that closing the racial income gap would grow the Seattle metro area GDP by 10%. For reference, in 2012 that would have added $26.6 billion to the Seattle economy.[vi]
  • International trade benefits the economy: Xenophobia and isolationism would have a negative impact on Seattle’s economy. According to the International Trade Administration, in 2015 $67.2 billion worth of goods were exported from Seattle. Seattle’s number one trade partner is China; more than $14 billion of goods was exported to China in 2015.[vii]

[i] Derived from Lynch and Oakford’s estimate of a $1.4 trillion national GDP increase (https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/immigration/reports/2013/03/20/57351/the-economic-effects-of-granting-legal-status-and-citizenship-to-undocumented-immigrants/) and Pew Research’s estimates of 11.1 million undocumented immigrants nationally and 250,000 in Washington (http://assets.pewresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/7/2016/09/31170303/PH_2016.09.20_Unauthorized_FINAL.pdf)

[ii] Center for American Progress, State-by-State Analysis of the Economic Impact of DACA, DAPA, and DACA Expansion, 2015 (https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/immigration/news/2015/06/15/114894/state-by-state-analysis-of-the-economic-impact-of-daca-dapa-and-daca-expansion/)

[iii] Policy Link and Marguerite Casey Foundation, LGBTQ Inclusion: Good for Families, Communities, and the Economy (https://issuu.com/policylink/docs/lgbtq-inclusion-final-05-06-16?e=16813419/35586393)

[iv] Economic Policy Institute (http://www.epi.org/publication/the-changing-demographics-of-americas-working-class/) Shareable chart for twitter: https://t.co/DwSHfatAMK

[v] Policy Link and Marguerite Casey Foundation, Just and Fair Employment for All: Good for Families, Communities, and the Economy (https://issuu.com/policylink/docs/employment-for-all-final-03-11-16?e=16813419/35586035)

[vi] Policy Link, USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity, The Equity Solution: Racial Inclusion is Key to Growing a Strong Economy, 2014 (http://www.policylink.org/sites/default/files/Equity_Solution_Brief.pdf)

[vii] Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration (http://www.trade.gov/mas/ian/metroreports/Seattle.pdf)