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Data: Heartland Forward; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

More foreign-born immigrants are moving to the center of the U.S. than in the past, according to a new report by Heartland Forward.

Why it matters: With population growth in the U.S. slower than it has been for the last 100 years, both high-skilled and low-skilled industries across America have come to rely more on immigrants to power their workforces.

  • Many states' populations would be shrinking if not for immigrants, the New York Times reported last year.
  • Immigrants' children typically achieve significant upward mobility. A 2016 population survey showed 38% of 2nd-generation immigrants completed college, compared to 32% of 1st-generation immigrants and 33% of native-born Americans.

The big picture: The report's findings counter perceptions that immigrants tend to settle on the coasts "because they're not welcome" in the middle of the country, Ross DeVol, president and CEO of Heartland Forward, told Axios.

By the numbers: The report found the overall foreign-born population who live in that 20-state region has risen from 23.5% in 2010 to 31% in 2019.

Zoom in: Both Northwest Arkansas and Des Moines house headquarters for some of America's largest companies — which require at least a college degree for many positions and have likely recruited talent from outside the country.

  • In the Northwest Arkansas metropolitan area, the change in foreign-born residents grew by nearly 33% between 2010 and 2019.
  • And a large portion of immigrants moving to the Des Moines area in the last 20 years were likely recruited and already had a college degree, per DeVol.
Data: Heartland Forward. Chart: Axios Visuals

Yes, but: Outside of bigger cities, things are more stark for rural areas, which have suffered population losses for decades.

  • But even there, immigrants have helped stem that tide, thanks to an influx of refugees taking agriculture-focused jobs.

What they're saying: Eldon Alik, consul general of the Marshallese Consulate in Springdale, Arkansas, said the community of Marshall Islanders there have been welcomed and largely assimilated into the community.

  • He attributes this partly to a shared Christian faith.
  • And Pew Research Center found in 2017 that most Muslims (55%) in the U.S. feel Americans are generally friendly toward them and most (70%) say they can get ahead with hard work.

What's next: Heartland America believes that further educating mayors, business leaders and governors about immigration benefits may create a grassroots effort to diversify populations with buy-in from the communities.

  • "As we go forward, diversity and inclusion are not optional; it's not something nice — it's fundamental to the economic development of our state," Bryan Slone, president of the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry said for the report.

The bottom line: Those invested in the region believe there's a case to be made for attracting immigrants of all skill levels to the country's geographic middle.

  • "This could be part of the formula for fostering stronger job creation and growth overall in heartland communities," DeVol said.
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Go deeper

23 mins ago - Health

Chart: Less than 0.1% of vaccinated Americans infected with COVID-19

Expand chart
Data: CDC; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Of the 164 million vaccinated Americans, less than 0.1% have been infected with the coronavirus, and 0.001% have died, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Why it matters: While "breakthrough cases" have been getting some media attention, the low numbers show that the pandemic is mostly a threat for the unvaccinated population.

Poll: Women of color highly motivated to vote

Voting rights activists, led by Congressional Black Caucus chair Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio), protest recent passage of voter restriction laws at Hart Senate Office Building on July 15, 2021. Photo: Alex Wong via Getty Images

Women of color turned out to vote at record rates in the 2020 election, with almost nine in 10 agreeing that the stakes were too high not to vote, according to a new poll.

Why it matters: The findings in the poll, conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of a group of reproductive rights organizations, appear to confirm the highly-motivated voting bloc's emerging power.

Updated 4 hours ago - Sports

Olympics dashboard

Katie Ledecky in Tokyo. Photo: Ding Xu/Xinhua via Getty Images

🚨: Simone Biles won't compete in individual vault or uneven bars

🏊‍♀️: Katie Ledecky wins gold in women's 800m freestyle

🏊: Caeleb Dressel breaks world record in men's 100m butterfly, 3rd gold

🇬🇧: Britain wins gold in first-ever Olympic mixed 4x100m medley relay

💻: Japan tests teleporting games and "remote cheering"

🏳️‍⚧️: Axios at the Olympics: Games grapple with trans athletesTrans athletes see the Tokyo Games as a watershed moment

Go deeper: Full Axios coverage