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New Americans in West Virginia

West Virginia ThumbThe Economic Power of Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians in the Mountain State (Updated May 2013)

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Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians account for growing shares of West Virginia’s population and economy. Immigrants (the foreign-born) make up 1.3% of the state’s population, and nearly half of them are naturalized U.S. citizens who are eligible to vote. Immigrants not only contribute to the state’s economy as workers, but also account for millions of dollars in tax revenue and consumer purchasing power. Moreover, Latinos and Asians (both foreign-born and native-born) wield $1.4 billion in consumer purchasing power, and the businesses they own had sales and receipts of $722.8 million and employed more than 5,600 people at last count. At a time when the economy is still recovering, West Virginia can ill-afford to alienate a significant component of its labor force, tax base, and business community.

Immigrants and their children are growing shares of West Virginia’s population.

  • The foreign-born share of West Virginia’s population rose from 0.9% in 1990, to 1.1% in 2000, to 1.3% in 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. West Virginia was home to 23,829 immigrants in 2011.
  • 44.5% of immigrants (or 10,599 people) in West Virginia were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2011—meaning that they are eligible to vote.
  • Unauthorized immigrants comprised <0.5% of the state’s population (or less than 10,000 people) in 2010, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.

Nearly 35,000 West Virginians are Latino or Asian.

  • The Latino share of West Virginia’s population grew from 0.5% in 1990, to 0.7% in 2000, to 1.1% (or 21,302 people) in 2011. The Asian share of the population grew from 0.4% in 1990 to 0.6% (or 11,492 people) in 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • In West Virginia, 83% of children with immigrant parents were U.S. citizens in 2009, according to data from the Urban Institute.
  • In 2009, 89% of children in Latino families in West Virginia were U.S. citizens.

Latino and Asian entrepreneurs and consumers add hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of jobs to West Virginia’s economy.

  • The 2012 purchasing power of Latinos in West Virginia totaled $653.9 million—an increase of 603% since 1990. Asian buying power totaled $728.5 million—an increase of 264% since 1990, according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia.
  • West Virginia’s 899 Latino-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $176.6 million and employed 1,430 people in 2007, the last year for which data is available. The state’s 1,526 Asian-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $546.2 million and employed 4,251 people in 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners.

Immigrants contribute to West Virginia’s economy as workers.

  • Immigrants comprised 1.7% of the state’s workforce in 2011 (or 13,710 workers), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Unauthorized immigrants contribute to West Virginia’s economy as workers and taxpayers.

  • Unauthorized immigrants comprised less than 0.5% of the state’s workforce (or under 10,000 workers) in 2010, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.
  • If all unauthorized immigrants were removed from West Virginia, the state would lose $26.6 million in economic activity, $11.8 million in gross state product, and approximately 180 jobs, even accounting for adequate market adjustment time, according to a report by the Perryman Group.

Immigrants contribute to West Virginia’s economy as students.

Naturalized citizens advance educationally.

  • In West Virginia, 48.3% of foreign-born persons who were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2011 had a bachelor’s or higher degree.
  • The number of immigrants in West Virginia with a college degree increased by 14.1% between 2000 and 2011, according to data from the Migration Policy Institute.
  • In 2011, 42.1% of West Virginia's foreign-born population age 25 and older had a bachelor's or higher degree, compared to 18.1% of native-born persons above age 25.
  • In West Virginia, 94.6% of children with immigrant parents were considered “English proficient” as of 2009, according to data from the Urban Institute.
  • The English proficiency rate among Latino children in West Virginia was 96.6% as of 2009.

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