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New Americans in Alabama

Alabama ThumbThe Political and Economic Power of Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians in the Yellowhammer State (Updated May 2013)

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Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians account for growing shares of the economy and population in Alabama. Immigrants (the foreign-born) make up 3.4% of the state’s population, and over one-third of them are naturalized U.S. citizens who are eligible to vote. Immigrants are not only important to the state’s economy as workers, but also account for billions of dollars in tax revenue and consumer purchasing power. Moreover, Latinos and Asians (both foreign-born and native-born) wield $5.8 billion in consumer purchasing power, and the businesses they own had sales and receipts of $3.6 billion and employed more than 25,000 people at last count. At a time when the economy is still recovering, Alabama can ill-afford to alienate such a critical component of its labor force, tax base, and business community.

Immigrants and their children are growing shares of Alabama’s population and electorate.

  • The foreign-born share of Alabama’s population rose from 1.1% in 1990, to 2.0% in 2000, to 3.4% in 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Alabama was home to 162,673 immigrants in 2011, which is more than the total population of Alexandria, Virginia.
  • 35.4% of immigrants (or 57,576 people) in Alabama were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2011—meaning that they are eligible to vote.
  • Unauthorized immigrants comprised roughly 2.5% of the state’s population (or 120,000 people) in 2010, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.
  • 0.8% (or 19,504) of registered voters in Alabama 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 analysis of 2008 Census Bureau data by Rob Paral & Associates.

5% of Alabamans are Latino or Asian.

  • The Latino share of Alabama’s population grew from 0.6% in 1990, to 1.7% in 2000, to 3.9% (or 186,204 people) in 2011. The Asian share of the population grew from 0.5% in 1990, to 0.7% in 2000, to 1.1% (or 54,259 people) in 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • In Alabama, 84.6% of children with immigrant parents were U.S. citizens in 2009, according to the Urban Institute.
  • In 2009, 87.8% of children in Asian families in Alabama were U.S. citizens, as were 85.1% of children in Latino families.

Latino and Asian entrepreneurs and consumers add billions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs to Alabama’s economy.

  • The 2012 purchasing power of Latinos in Alabama totaled $3.5 billion—an increase of 1,164% since 1990. Asian buying power totaled $2.3 billion—an increase of 705% since 1990, according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia.
  • Alabama’s 4,439 Latino-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $1 billion and employed 7,346 people in 2007, the last year for which data is available. The state’s 6,908 Asian-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $2.6 billion and employed 17,993 people in 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners.

Immigrants are important to Alabama’s economy as workers.

  • Immigrants comprised 4.7% of the state’s workforce in 2011 (or 107,062 workers), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Unauthorized immigrants are important to Alabama’s economy as workers and taxpayers.

  • Unauthorized immigrants in Alabama paid $118.1 million in state and local taxes in 2010, including $91 million in sales taxes, $19.6 million in state income taxes, and $7.6 million in property taxes, according to data from the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy.
  • Were unauthorized immigrants in Alabama to have legal status, they would pay $148.9 million in state and local taxes, including $96 million in sales taxes, $44.7 million in state income taxes, and $8.1 million in property taxes.
  • Unauthorized immigrants comprised roughly 4.2% of the state’s workforce (or 95,000 workers) in 2010, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.
  • If all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Alabama, the state would lose $2.6 billion in economic activity, $1.1 billion in gross state product, and approximately 17,819 jobs, even accounting for adequate market adjustment time, according to a report by the Perryman Group.

Immigrants contribute to Alabama’s economy as students.

Naturalized citizens excel educationally.

  • In Alabama, 33.6% of foreign-born persons who were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2011  had a bachelor’s or higher degree, compared to 18.1% of noncitizens, according to data from the Migration Policy Institute. At the same time, only 19.7% of naturalized citizens lacked a high-school diploma, compared to 42.6% of noncitizens.
  • The number of immigrants in Alabama with a college degree increased by 55.2% between 2000 and 2011.
  • In Alabama, 80.6% of children with immigrant parents were considered “English proficient” as of 2009, according to data from the Urban Institute.
  • The English proficiency rate among Asian children was 88.6%, while for Latino children it was 79%, as of 2009.

Published On: Thu, Jan 10, 2013 | Download File