Press Release

Refugee Employers See Lower Turnover, Better Recruitment

For Immediate Release
May 22, 2018


Fiscal Policy Institute: David Dyssegaard Kallick, Deputy Director
646.284.1240, [email protected]

Tent: Roya Shariat, Senior Communications Strategist
917.475.9972, [email protected]

New Study:
Refugee Employers See Lower Turnover, Better Recruitment

Employers that hire refugees see positive outcomes for their businesses, according to a report released today by the Fiscal Policy Institute and the Tent Partnership for Refugees. The study, based on over 100 interviews in four regions of the country, finds that when employers hire refugees they see lower turnover rates among refugees, and widen their pool of potential employees. In addition, many see overall improvements in the company, with their managers becoming more versatile as they adjust to working with a more diverse workforce.

These findings of positive outcomes in the workplace seem at odds with recent restrictions on the number of refugees admitted to the country. Despite record numbers of refugees around the world, the Trump Administration is currently on target to let in the lowest number of refugees resettled in recent decades.

“This report is the first of its kind focused on the experience of businesses that hire refugees, and we are excited to see clear evidence that employers benefit from bringing refugees into their workforce,” said Gideon Maltz, executive director of the Tent Partnership for Refugees, which was a partner and funder of the project. “As Tent works to mobilize businesses to support refugees wherever they live, these findings make the case that hiring refugees isn’t just the right thing to do — it’s good for business.”

Among the report’s findings:

  • Three quarters of firms surveyed saw lower turnover rates for refugees than overall
  • The turnover rates were lower in all industries, sometimes by half or more. In manufacturing, average annual refugee turnover was 4 percent annually, compared to 11 percent overall. In a hotel it was 29 percent compared to 36 percent overall. In meat packing it was 25 percent compared to 40 percent overall.
  • Lower turnover translates into efficiency for companies. Replacing an employee was estimated for these employers to cost about $5,000—more than enough to offset the costs of hiring and retaining refugee employees.
  • Employers often saw overall improvements in their managers after refugees were hired.

“We found employers were enthusiastic about their refugee employees, and they were proud of their managers, who had gotten to be better at their jobs as they adapted to the changing environment,” said David Dyssegaard Kallick, deputy director of the Fiscal Policy Institute and co-author of the report. “Managers got better at communicating clearly and simply with all employees. And they got better at hiring people on the basis of their potential to do the job rather than on their prior knowledge of a specific skill set.”

The report is based on over 100 interviews, including 26 employers of refugees in four regions of the country – Eastern Nebraska, Phoenix, Arizona, the Atlanta metro area, and upstate New York. It includes analysis of the jobs done by refugees around the country, based on an imputation of refugee status in the American Community Survey. And it includes data about placement of refugees over the past 10 years in metro areas around the country, based on analysis of WRAPS (Worldwide Refugee Admissions Processing System) data.

“The picture this report paints is clear: refugees may need some help getting started, but they ultimately do very well on the job, and their employers really recognize and appreciate this,” said Cyierra Roldan, policy analyst at the Fiscal Policy Institute and a co-author of the report.

Read the analysis: “Refugees as Employees: Good Retention, Strong Recruitment” here.


The Fiscal Policy Institute is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit research and education organization committed to improving public policies and private practices to better the economic and social conditions of all New Yorkers. FPI’s Immigration Research Initiative looks at immigration issues in New York state and around the country.

Tent is mobilizing the private sector to improve the lives and livelihoods of the more than 20 million men, women, and children who have been forcibly displaced from their home countries. As traditional actors struggle to cope with the global refugee crisis—with ever-increasing numbers of refugees, displaced for longer periods of time—it is clear that businesses have a more important role than ever before. Tent works with businesses to help them develop and implement tangible commitments to support refugees.

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