Lancaster County is Donald Trump land. The president-elect won 57 percent of the 240,000 votes cast there, compared with Hillary Clinton's 38 percent.
The county of about a half-million people also is home to fast-growing numbers of immigrants and refugees - 23,094 as of last count - whose rate of growth from 2009 to 2014 was nearly double the rate for the county as a whole. Nationwide, immigrants and refugees were among groups often lambasted by candidate Trump.
But in Lancaster County, according to a study released Tuesday, foreign-born residents have had "an outsize" positive impact on the local economy, and in 2014 contributed $62.8 million to Social Security, $16.4 million to Medicare, $52.5 million in state and local taxes, and $103.3 million in federal taxes. Their spending power was estimated at $440.5 million.
The study was a joint project of the Lancaster County Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Lancaster County Refugee Coalition. It was conducted and underwritten by the bipartisan New American Economy, a Washington nonprofit whose cochairs include former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter.
Contrary to the belief that immigrants take jobs away from native-born Americans, the study stated, "immigrants . . . in Lancaster helped create or preserve 1,062 local manufacturing jobs that would have vanished or moved elsewhere" because they could not have been filled.
"With the very serious workforce challenges the business community faces, the findings in this report will help us to more fully leverage every person in this county," Cheryl Irwin-Bass, vice president of the chamber, said when she presented the study at her group's annual State of the County event.
"They aren't taking jobs away from local residents," said Sheila Mastropietro of the charity Church World Service, which helps resettle refugees across the county and find them jobs. "They are filling jobs that our local employers cannot fill because of the county's low unemployment" - 3.6 percent compared with 4.9 percent nationally.
The study cites manufacturing and health care as industries in which immigrants have played important roles. Some refugees have obtained jobs at Tyson Foods.
Church World Service has an office in Lancaster City, and the refugees she helps include Syrians who have had to flee their war-ravaged homeland. The top five immigrant groups are from Vietnam, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Germany, and Cuba.
"Employers tell us they can count on the refugees that we send them," said Mastropietro. "They stay in the jobs and commit themselves."