Explainer, Report

Removing All Undocumented New Jerseyans Would Harm the State’s Economy

Published on Nov 1, 2016 in Economic Justice

To read a PDF version of this report, click here.

New Jersey’s economy would suffer a substantial blow if all of the United States’ 11.3 million undocumented immigrants – more than 7 million of whom are working – were removed from the country.


In fact, the loss to New Jersey’s Gross Domestic Product of 4.9 percent is the largest loss of any of the 50 states, topping immigrant-heavy states like California (4.7 percent loss), Texas (3.9 percent loss) and New York (3 percent loss), according to a new 50-state analysis by the Center for American Progress.[1]

The forced removal of these striving immigrants would cause New Jersey to lose $25.9 billion in annual economic activity. While this is not the largest dollar loss of any state (California tops the list at $103 billion), it is the largest when taken in context of the size of a state’s economy.

New Jersey’s workforce has the third-highest share of undocumented workers in the nation, at 7.4 percent – behind California (10.2 percent) and Texas (8.7 percent). But the loss of these workers’ contributions would be more keenly felt by New Jersey’s economy, in large part because there undocumented workers’ contributions to the economy are more diverse and felt in many higher-paid industries.

sector-gdp-loss-01For instance, New Jersey’s financial industry would lose an estimated 5.3 percent of its annual economic activity without undocumented workers – a far higher share than all other states (the next closest states are Connecticut with a 2.6 percent loss and New York with 2.3 percent).

That said, the loss to New Jersey’s economy from the removal of the undocumented workforce would be felt across industries.

These grim prospects serve as an important reminder of the unmistakable value that immigrants – both undocumented and documented – bring to New Jersey and to the state’s economy.

Without the economic contributions of immigrants, the Garden State would be far worse off – which is all the more reason for the state to pursue commonsense policies that embrace and welcome our immigrant neighbors, rather than force them to live in the shadows. Allowing undocumented New Jerseyans to legally drive, for example, would be a vital step towards building an inclusive state while improving public safety and boosting the economy.[2]


[1] Center for American Progress, The Economic Impacts of Removing Unauthorized Immigrant Workers, September 2016.

[2] For more on this issue, see: New Jersey Policy Perspective, Share the Road: Allowing Eligible Undocumented Residents Access to Driver’s Licenses Makes Sense for New Jersey, September 2014.

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