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New Americans in Pennsylvania

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

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Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians account for large and growing shares of the economy and population in the electoral swing state of Pennsylvania. Immigrants (the foreign-born) make up 5.9% of the state’s population, and over half of them are naturalized U.S. citizens eligible to vote. “New Americans”—immigrants and the children of immigrants—account for 4.5% of all registered voters in the state. Latinos and Asians (both foreign-born and native-born) account for more than 8% of all Pennsylvanians and wield $33 billion in consumer purchasing power. At last count, businesses owned by Latinos and Asians had sales and receipts of $14.8 billion and employed more than 73,000 people. At a time when the economy is still recovering, Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania’s population and electorate.

  • The foreign-born share of Pennsylvania’s population rose from 3.1% in 1990, to 4.1% in 2000, to 5.9% in 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Pennsylvania was home to 756,410 immigrants in 2011, which is nearly the total population of Columbus, Ohio.
  • 52.3% of immigrants (or 395,879 people) in Pennsylvania were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2011—meaning that they are eligible to vote.
  • Unauthorized immigrants comprised 1.3% of the state’s population in 2010 (or 160,000 people), according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.
  • 4.5% (or 290,283) of all registered voters in Pennsylvania were “New Americans”—immigrants or the children of immigrants—according to an analysis of 2008 Census Bureau data by Rob Paral & Associates.

Roughly 1 in 12 Pennsylvanians are Latino or Asian.

  • The Latino share of Pennsylvania’s population grew from 2.0% in 1990, to 3.2% in 2000, to 5.9% (or 751,430 people) in 2011. The Asian share of the population grew from 1.1% in 1990, to 1.8% in 2000, to 2.8% (or 358,168 people) in 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Latinos comprised 2.8% (or 161,000) of Pennsylvania voters in the 2008 elections, and Asians about one-half of one percent (or 31,000), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • In Pennsylvania, 86.9% of children with immigrant parents were U.S. citizens in 2009, according to data from the Urban Institute.
  • In 2009, 87.6% of children in Asian families in Pennsylvania were U.S. citizens, as were 95.2% of children in Latino families.

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

  • The 2012 purchasing power of Pennsylvania’s Latinos totaled $16.1 billion—an increase of 665% since 1990. Asian buying power also totaled $16.9 billion—an increase of 648% since 1990, according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia.
  • Pennsylvania’s 31,313 Asian-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $11.6 billion and employed 58,506 people in 2007, the last year for which data is available. The state’s 22,777 Latino-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $3.2 billion and employed 15,362 people in 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners.

Immigrants are essential to Pennsylvania’s economy as workers.

  • Immigrants comprised 7.1% of the state’s workforce in 2011 (or 457,910 workers), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Immigrants accounted for nearly three-quarters of labor-force growth in Philadelphia between 2000 and 2006, according to a report by the Brookings Institution.
  • Immigrants accounted for 10% of total economic output in the Philadelphia metropolitan area and 4% of economic output in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area as of 2007, according to a study by the Fiscal Policy Institute.
  • Unauthorized immigrants comprised 1.7% of the state’s workforce in 2010 (or 110,000 workers), according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.
  • If all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Pennsylvania, the state would lose $5.3 billion in economic activity, $2.3 billion in gross state product, and approximately 27,718 jobs, even accounting for adequate market adjustment time, according to a report by the Perryman Group.

Unauthorized immigrants pay taxes. 

  • Unauthorized immigrants in Pennsylvania paid $149 million in state and local taxes in 2010, including $95.3 million in sales taxes, $45.5 million in state income taxes, and $8.2 million in property taxes, according to data from the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy. 
  • Were unauthorized immigrants in Pennsylvania to have legal status, they would pay $212.9 million in state and local taxes, including $101 million in sales taxes, $103 million in state income taxes, and $9 million in property taxes.

Immigrants are integral to Pennsylvania’s economy as students.

 Immigrants in Pennsylvania excel educationally.

  • The number of immigrants in Pennsylvania with a college degree increased by 58.9% between 2000 and 2011, according to data from the Migration Policy Institute.
  • 35.1% of Pennsylvania’s foreign-born population age 25 and older had at least a bachelor’s degree in 2011, compared to 26.3% of native-born persons age 25 and older.
  • In Pennsylvania, 88% 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 Pennsylvania was 88%, while for Latino children it was 87.5%, as of 2009.

Published On: Fri, Jan 11, 2013 | Download File