New Fortune 500 List Shows America's Economic Success Relies on Immigrants

by Steven Hubbard


America’s economic success is built on the world’s best and brightest coming to our shores bringing ingenuity, creativity, and determination. From Wall Street to Main Street, businesses started by immigrants have helped the U.S. economy enormously.

The history of immigrant entrepreneurship stretches back to the country’s founding. Famously, the designer of the American financial system was an immigrant, Alexander Hamilton, a native of Nevis in the British West Indies.  Some of the United States’ largest companies today were founded by immigrants or the children of immigrants, including Amazon, Apple, and Costco. Even though immigrants constitute only 13.6% of the U.S. population, its estimated that a quarter (25%) of America’s entrepreneurs are immigrants.

Immigrant representation is again significant in this year’s New American Fortune 500 list.

Over one in five fortune 500 companies (102) were founded by immigrants. When one includes the additional 117 companies founded by the children of immigrants, the share of the Fortune 500 list grows to nearly 44%. This is also an increase from our first report on the New American Fortune 500, which found that 40% of the Fortune 500 in 2011 were founded by immigrants or the children of immigrants.

In our yearly report on the New American Fortune 500 companies—immigrant and children of immigrant founders from the Fortune 500 list—we made other key findings.

Fortune 500 companies founded by immigrants or children of immigrants employ more than 14.8 million people worldwide.

The number of workers employed at New American Fortune companies is a little larger than the state population of Pennsylvania—the fifth largest state in the country. On average, each New American Fortune company employs 67,580 workers per company, 21.4% more than the average number of workers at non-New American Fortune 500 firms.

The revenue generated by Fortune 500 companies founded by immigrants or their children is greater than the GDP of every country in the world outside the U.S., except China.

New American Fortune 500 companies brought in more than $7 trillion (about $22,000 per person in the U.S.) of revenue in fiscal year 2021. That figure is greater than the GDP of many developed countries including Japan, Germany, and the United Kingdom.    

Immigrant-founded Fortune 500 companies drive a wide range of industry sectors across the American economy.

New American Fortune 500 companies are not confined to a small subset of industries or fields. Over 68 industries are represented in the New American Fortune 500 list, including pharmaceuticals, food manufacturers, and human resources.

35 states are headquarters to at least one New American Fortune 500 firm, and seven of those states have at least 10 firms.

When we compare companies at the state level, New American Fortune 500 firms are significant players in some states’ economies. New York had the highest number of New American Fortune 500 firms at 31.  California had the second highest number of firms at 25.  Illinois and Texas followed at 23 companies and 21 companies, respectively.

In the post-pandemic global economy, the United States is faced with several new challenges. One is figuring out how to attract and welcome the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators, especially as competing countries have become more pro-active in attracting the world’s best and brightest. While the United States has long been the premier destination for this kind of global talent, it has become increasingly clear that we need smarter immigration policies to attract and retain international talent.

This post originally appeared on Immigration Impact Reprinted with permission.


About The Author


Steven Hubbard is a data scientist at the American Immigration Council where he conducts research and data visualization projects related to immigration. Most recently, he was a Zolberg Fellow at The New School and International Rescue Committee where he conducted research on Syrian refugees living in Jordan. With a deep interest in photography, he recognizes the importance of visualization to communicate complex data problems and facilitate data driven decision making. Hubbard has over 20 years of experience in college teaching, research, and administration at New York University, The University of Iowa, and Hamline University. Dr. Hubbard started his professional career as a city planner for local governments in rural southwest Iowa.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.