A new study shows that Mississippi has the highest growth rate of college-educated immigrants in the country. MPB's Kobee Vance reports.
From 2017 to 2018, Mississippi had a huge "brain gain" with a 32 percent increase in college-educated immigrants. The study done by New American Economy also highlights that in 2018, the state's immigrant population paid over half a million dollars in taxes, and has 1.5 billion dollars in spending power.
Andrew Lim is with New American Economy.
He says immigrants make up only a small portion of Mississippi's population, but -- they are filling many of the state's highly skilled jobs.
"So people working at colleges and universities, 6.2 percent of the workforce there were immigrant, and if you compare that to the overall share of the population of Mississippi, which is 2.5 percent, which is quite low, you can see that they're predominately concentrated in that sector as well."
While the state is seeing an increase of educated immigrants, not all of them are able to immediately join the workforce. Patricia Ice is with Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance. She says immigrants, and especially refugees, can have licensees in their home countries that aren't compatible here.
"People who are pharmacists for example, or have been physicians, or who have been in other professions that may be required a license in their country, and requires a license in this country, but they're not eligible for that license because they don't meet all the requirements here."
There are currently over 77 thousand immigrants living in Mississippi, and according to the research, this means Mississippi has the third-lowest density of immigrants in the nation.