STRENGTH IN DIVERSITY:
The Economic and Political Clout of Immigrants,
Latinos, and Asians in the United States
Immigration Policy Center
Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians constitute large and
growing shares of the U.S. workforce, tax base, business
community, and electorate. Immigrants (the foreign-born)
account for 1 out of every 8 people in the United
States, and 1 out of every 7 workers. More than one-
third of immigrants are naturalized U.S. citizens who
are eligible to vote. "New Americans"-immigrants and the
children of immigrants-account for 1 in 10 registered
voters. Moreover, one out of every five people in the
country is Latino or Asian. Together, Latinos and Asians
(both foreign-born and native-born) wield $1.5 trillion
in consumer purchasing power, and the businesses they
owned had sales of $857 billion and employed 4.7 million
workers at last count. Immigrant, Latino, and Asian
workers, taxpayers, and entrepreneurs are integral to
the U.S. economy-and they are a potent electoral force.
1 in 8 people in the United States is an immigrant.
* The foreign-born share of the U.S. population rose
from 7.9% in 1990,1 to 11.1% in 2000,2 to 12.9% in
2010,3 according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The
United States was home to nearly 40 million
immigrants in 2010, which is more than the total
population of California.4
* Just under one-third (29.3%) of the foreign-
born population came from Mexico as of 2010,
while more than one-quarter (25.9%) came from
the countries of South and East Asia-followed by
nations of the Caribbean (9.3%), Central America
(7.6%), and South America (6.8%), according to
the U.S. Census Bureau.5
* Approximately 37% of the foreign-born were
naturalized U.S. citizens, 31% were Legal
Permanent Residents, 28% were unauthorized, and
4% were legal temporary migrants in 2010,
according to the Pew Hispanic Center.6
* There were 4.5 million native- born, U.S.-
citizen children with at least one parent who
was an unauthorized immigrant in 2010, according
to the Pew Hispanic Center.
* 22.7% of all children in the United States
(16.8 million) had parents who were immigrants
as of 2009, according to the Urban Institute.7
Of these children, 43.6% (7.3 million) had
parents who were noncitizens
1 in 5 people in the United States is Latino or Asian.
* The Latino share of the U.S. population grew from
9% in 1990,8 to 12.5% in 2000,9 to 16.4% (or 50.7
million people) in 2010.10 The Asian share of the
population grew from 2.8% in 1990,11 to 3.6% in
2000,12 to 4.8% (or 14.8 million) in 2010,13
according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
* More than one-third (37.1%) of Latinos and
two- thirds (65.9%) of Asians were foreign-born
in 2010 according the U.S. Census Bureau.14
* Nearly one-quarter (22%, or 16.3 million) of
all children in the United States in 2009 were
Latino, according to the Urban Institute.15
* More than half (57.9%) of Latino children in
the United States had at least one foreign-born
parent, according to the Urban Institute.16
Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians are large and
growing shares of the U.S. electorate
* In 2008, 10.2% (or 15 million) of all
registered voters were "New Americans"-
naturalized citizens or the U.S.-born children
of immigrants who were raised during the current
era of immigration from Latin America and Asia
which began in 1965- according to an IPC
analysis of Census Bureau data.17
* 9.3 million registered voters were naturalized
citizens, while 5.7 million were "post-1965"
children of immigrants.18
* Naturalized citizens comprised 6.4% of all
voters, while "post-1965" children of immigrants
were 3.9% of voters.19
* There were 6.6 million Latino voters in the 2010
mid-term elections (up from 5.6 million in the 2006
mid-terms), and 2.3 million Asian voters (up from
2.1 million in 2006), according to an analysis of
Census data by the Pew Hispanic Center.20
* In 2010, Latinos comprised 6.9% of all voters
(up from 5.8% in 2006) and Asians were 2.4% (up
from 2.2% in 2006).21
More than 1 in 7 workers in the U.S. is an immigrant.
* The nation's 24.4 million foreign-born workers
comprised 15.8% of the U.S. labor force in 2010,
according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.22
Foreign-born workers accounted for 40% of
workers in farming, fishing, and forestry; 36%
in cleaning and maintenance; 26% in construction
and extraction; 23% in food preparation and
serving; and 20% in computer and mathematical
occupations in 2010.23
Unauthorized immigrants contribute to the U.S. economy.
* Unauthorized immigrants comprised 5.2% of the U.S.
workforce (or 8 million workers) in 2010, according
to the Pew Hispanic Center.24
* Households headed by unauthorized immigrants paid
$11.2 billion in state and local taxes in 2010,
according to estimates prepared for the IPC by the
Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy.25
* If all unauthorized immigrants were removed from
the United States, the country would lose $551.6
billion in economic activity, $245 billion in Gross
Domestic Product (GDP), and approximately 2.8
million jobs, even accounting for adequate market
adjustment time, according to a 2008 report by the
* A 2010 report from the IPC and Center for American
Progress estimates that deporting all unauthorized
immigrants from the country and somehow "sealing the
border" to future unauthorized immigration would
reduce U.S. GDP by 1.46% annually-or $2.6 trillion
in lost GDP over 10 years. Moreover, the U.S.
economy would shed large numbers of jobs.27
Immigrants increase the nation's economic output.
* A 2007 report from the White House Council of
Economic Advisers concluded that immigration as a
whole increases the U.S. Gross Domestic Product
(GDP) by roughly $37 billion each year because
immigrants increase the size of the total labor
force, complement the native-born workforce in terms
of skills and education, and stimulate capital
investment by adding workers to the labor pool.28
Most native-born workers have experienced wage gains
* Immigrants do not compete with the majority of
natives for the same jobs because they tend to have
different levels of education and to work in
different occupations. As a result, immigrants
usually "complement" the native-born workforce-
which increases the productivity, and therefore the
wages, of natives.29
* A 2010 report from the Economic Policy Institute
estimated that, from 1994 to 2007, immigration
increased the wages of native-born workers by 0.4%.
The amount of the wage gain varied slightly by the
education level of the worker. College graduates got
a boost of 0.4%, workers with some college 0.7%,
high-school graduates 0.3%, and workers without a
high-school diploma 0.3%.30
* A 2008 study by economist Giovanni Peri estimated
that, from 1990 to 2006, immigration increased the
wages of native- born workers by 0.6%. College
graduates experienced an increase of 0.5%, workers
with some college 0.9%, high-school graduates 0.4%,
and workers without a high-school diploma 0.3%.31
The purchasing power of Latino and Asian consumers
totaled $1.5 trillion in 2010.
* Together, Latinos and Asians accounted for nearly
14% of the nation's total purchasing power,
according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth at
the University of Georgia.
* The purchasing power of Latinos totaled $1
trillion in 2010 (an increase of 392.9% since
1990), and is projected to reach $1.5 trillion
* The purchasing power of Asians totaled $543.7
billion in 2010 (an increase of 371.3% since
1990), and is projected to reach $775.1 billion
by 2015.33 Latino and Asian businesses had sales
of $857 billion and employed 4.7 million workers
* Together, businesses owned by Latinos and
Asians comprised 14% of all U.S. businesses,
according to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2007
Survey of Business Owners.
* The nation's 2.3 million Latino- owned
businesses had sales and receipts of $350.7
billion and employed 1.9 million people in 2007
(the last year for which data is available).34
* The nation's 1.5 million Asian- owned
businesses had sales and receipts of $506
billion and employed 2.8 million people in
2007.35 Immigrants are integral to the U.S.
economy as students.
* The 690,923 foreign students who were in the
country during the 2009-2010 academic year
contributed $18.8 billion to the economy in tuition,
fees, and living expenses, according to NAFSA:
Association of International Educators.36
1 U.S. Census Bureau, The Foreign-Born Population: 2000,
3 2010 American Community Survey (1-year Estimates).
4 U.S. Census Bureau: State and County QuickFacts.
5 2010 American Community Survey (1-year Estimates).
6 Jeffrey S. Passel and D'Vera Cohn, Unauthorized
Immigrant Population: National and State Trend, 2012
(Washington DC: Pew Hispanic Center, February 1, 2011).
7 The Urban Institute, data from the Integrated Public
Use Microdata Series datasets drawn from the 2005 - 2009
American Community Survey.
8 U.S. Census Bureau, The Hispanic Population:2000, May
10 2010 American Community Survey (1-year Estimates).
11 U.S. Census Bureau, The Asian Population: 2000,
13 2010 American Community Survey (1-year Estimates).
15 The Urban Institute, data from the Integrated Public
Use Microdata Series datasets drawn from the 2005 - 2009
American Community Survey.
17 Immigration Policy Center, The New American
Electorate: The Growing Power of Immigrants and their
Children (Washington, DC: American Immigration Council,
October 2010), p. 1.
20 Mark Hugo Lopez, The Latino Electorate in 2010: More
Voters, More Non-Voters (Washington, DC: Pew Hispanic
Center, April 26, 2011), p. 7.
21 Ibid., p. 13.
22 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, "Foreign-Born
Workers: Labor Force Characteristics-2010," May 27,
24 Jeffrey S. Passel and D'Vera Cohn, Unauthorized
Immigrant Population: National and State Trends, 2010
(Washington, DC: Pew Hispanic Center, February 1, 2011),
25 Immigration Policy Center, Unauthorized Immigrants
Pay Taxes, Too: Estimates of the State and Local Taxes
Paid by Unauthorized Immigrant Households (Washington,
DC: American Immigration Council, April 18, 2011).
26 The Perryman Group, An Essential Resource: An
Analysis of the Economic Impact of Undocumented Workers
on Business Activity in the US with Estimated Effects by
State and by Industry (Waco, TX: April 2008), p. 69.
27 Raul Hinojosa-Ojeda, Raising the Floor for American
Workers: The Economic Benefits of Comprehensive
Immigration Reform (Washington, DC: Immigration Policy
Center and Center for American Progress, January 2010),
28 White House Council of Economic Advisers,
Immigration's Economic Impact, June 20, 2007, p. 3.
29 Giovanni Peri, Rethinking the Effects of Immigration
on Wages: New Data and Analysis from 1990-2004
(Washington, DC: Immigration Policy Center, American
Immigration Law Foundation, October 2006), p. 1.
30 Heidi Shierholz, Immigration and Wages:
Methodological advancements confirm modest gains for
native workers (Washington, DC: Economic Policy
Institute, February 4, 2010), p. 12.
31 Gianmarco I.P. Ottaviano and Giovanni Peri,
Immigration and National Wages: Clarifying the Theory
and the Empirics, NBER Working Paper No. 14188
(Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research,
July 2008), p. 58.
32 Jeffrey M. Humphreys, The Multicultural Economy 2010
(Athens, GA: Selig Center for Economic Growth,
University of Arkansas, August 2010).
34 U.S. Census Bureau, 2007 Survey of Business Owners,
Statistics for All U.S. Firms by Geographic Area,
Industry, Gender, Ethnicity, and Race: 2007.
36 NAFSA: Association of International Educators, The
Economic Benefits of International Education to the
United States for the 2009-2010 Academic Year: A
Statistical Analysis (Washington, DC: NAFSA: Association
of International Educators, 2010).
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