Thursday, May 30, 2013

Income and Poverty Characteristics of Immigrants in the United States

Access to gainful employment is one of the most powerful forces shaping how immigrants and their families fare once they arrive in a new country. Such opportunity provides not only economic stability, but the building blocks of successful integration through up-close interaction with native-born colleagues and the chance to learn country-specific business and social practices, as well as sharpen language skills.

Not surprisingly, however, significant differences exist between the economic well-being of immigrants and the native born.

Analysis of the latest national and state-level data from the US Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS) and 2000 Decennial Census reveals many interesting facts regarding issues of pay equality, poverty rates of immigrants and their families, and income levels among certain immigrant groups.

This month, the Data Hub's updated "Income and Poverty" fact sheets offer a platform to learn more about the earnings of immigrant workers, variation in earnings by gender and region of birth, and the share of immigrant families living in poverty. Here is a quick tour through some of our national and state-level income and poverty statistics for immigrants (and the native born) in the United States in 2011:

• Nationwide, foreign-born workers earned less than native-born workers: Among full-time, year-round workers, 33 percent of immigrants make less than $25,000 a year compared to 20 percent of native-born workers. Higher up the earnings spectrum, 33 percent of immigrants earned $50,000 or more annually compared to 43 percent of native-born workers. So where do immigrants fare best geographically when it comes to overall earnings? The jurisdictions with the largest share of immigrants earning $50,000 or more per year are the District of Columbia (55 percent, compared to 66 percent of native-born residents), New Hampshire (52 percent, compared to 47 percent of the native born), and Maryland (45 percent, compared to 57 percent of the native born). Interestingly, in New Hampshire, immigrants outearned the native born.

• Immigrant men have higher median earnings than immigrant women: Median earnings for immigrant men ($35,900) surpass those of immigrant women ($31,700) for nonseasonal, full-time, year-round workers. Among immigrants of both genders, naturalized citizens make more than noncitizens. (For more on this point, read The Economic Value of Citizenship)

• The native born are less likely than the foreign born to live in poverty: One of every five immigrants (20 percent) lives in poverty compared to 15 percent of the native born. Immigrants who are not US citizens are more than twice as likely to live in poverty (26 percent) as their naturalized US citizen counterparts (12 percent).

• Traditional immigrant-receiving states have the highest numbers of immigrants living in poverty: These states are California (with 1.9 million immigrants below the poverty line), Texas (1 million), and New York (793,000). The three states with the highest proportions of immigrants living in poverty are New Mexico (31 percent), Arizona (27 percent), and Nebraska (27 percent).

For a full look at income and poverty data on a national or state level – or to find a wealth of other state-level and national data examining social and demographic, language and education, and workforce characteristics of immigrants in the United States, click here.


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