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New Americans in Kentucky

Kentucky ThumbThe Political and Economic Power of Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians in the Bluegrass State (Updated May 2014)

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Download the Fact Sheet (Updated 2014)

Download the Previous Fact Sheet (From 2010)

Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians account for growing shares of Kentucky’s economy and population. Immigrants (the foreign-born) make up 3.2% of the state’s population, and more than one-third of them are naturalized U.S. citizens who are eligible to vote. “New Americans”—immigrants and the children of immigrants—account for 1.8% of registered voters in the state. 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 $5.1 billion in consumer purchasing power, and the businesses they own had sales and receipts of over $3 billion and employed more than 23,000 people at last count. At a time when the economy is still recovering, Kentucky 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 Kentucky’s population and electorate. 

  • The foreign-born share of Kentucky’s population rose from 0.9% in 1990, to 2.0% in 2000, to 3.2% in 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Kentucky was home to 140,433 immigrants in 2011, which is more than the total population of Springfield, Illinois.
  • 35.6% of immigrants (or 49,994 people) in Kentucky were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2011—meaning that they are eligible to vote.
  • Unauthorized immigrants comprised roughly 1.8% of the state’s population (or 80,000 people) in 2010, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.
  • 1.8% (or 40,655) of registered voters in Kentucky 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.

Latinos and Asians make up 4.1% of Kentucky’s population.

  • The Latino share of Kentucky’s population grew from 0.6% in 1990, to 1.5% in 2000, to 3.0% (or 131,508 people) in 2011. The Asian share of the population grew from 0.5% in 1990, to 0.7% in 2000, to 1.2% (or 50,424 people) in 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • In Kentucky, 83.7% of children with immigrant parents were U.S. citizens in 2009, according to data from the Urban Institute.
  • In 2009, 81.6% of children in Asian families in Kentucky were U.S. citizens, as were 89.3% of children in Latino families.

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

  • The 2012 purchasing power of Latinos in Kentucky totaled $2.6 billion—an increase of 1,033.3% since 1990. Asian buying power totaled $2.5 billion—an increase of 750.7% since 1990, according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia.
  • Kentucky’s 5,559 Asian-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $2.1 billion and employed 16,941 people in 2007, the last year for which data is available.  The state’s 3,663 Latino-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $906.9 million and employed 6,705 people in 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners. 

Immigrants contribute to Kentucky’s economy as workers and taxpayers.

  • Immigrants comprised 4.2% of the state’s workforce in 2011 (or 87,404 workers), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Immigrants contributed more than $30 million in state sales and excise taxes to Kentucky in 2000, according a 2002 report by the Legislative Research Commission. 

Unauthorized immigrants contribute to Kentucky’s economy as workers, consumers, and taxpayers.

  • Unauthorized immigrants comprised roughly 2.6% of the state’s workforce (or 55,000 workers) in 2010, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.
  • If all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Kentucky, the state would lose $1.7 billion in economic activity, $756.8 million in gross state product, and approximately 12,059 jobs, even accounting for adequate market adjustment time, according to a report by the Perryman Group.
  • Unauthorized immigrants in Kentucky paid $58.8 million in state and local taxes in 2010, including $38.8 million in sales taxes, $15.3 million in state income taxes, and $4.8 million in property taxes, according to data from the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy.
  • Were unauthorized immigrants in Kentucky to have legal status, they would pay $82 million in state and local taxes, including $41.4 million in sales taxes, $35.3 million in state income taxes, and $5.3 million in property taxes.

Immigrants contribute to Kentucky’s economy as students.

Naturalized citizens excel educationally. 

  • In Kentucky, 38% of foreign-born persons who were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2011 had a bachelor’s or higher degree, compared to 29.1% of noncitizens. At the same time, only 18.8% of naturalized citizens lacked a high-school diploma, compared to 31.2% of noncitizens.
  • The number of immigrants in Kentucky with a college degree increased by 79.9% between 2000 and 2011, according to data from the Migration Policy Institute.
  • In Kentucky, 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 in Kentucky was 85.3%, while for Latino children it was 82.4%, as of 2009.

Published On: Tue, Jan 01, 2013 | Download File