Immigrants in Colorado

October 4, 2017

Colorado has a growing community of immigrants, making up nearly 10 percent of all residents. Immigrants comprise nearly 14 percent of all business owners in the state’s densely populated Denver metro area. As workers, business owners, taxpayers, and neighbors, immigrants are an integral part of Colorado’s diverse and thriving communities and make extensive contributions that benefit all.

Nearly 1 in 10 Colorado residents is an immigrant, and a similar share of residents are native-born U.S. citizens who have at least one immigrant parent.

  • In 2015, 537,066 immigrants (foreign-born individuals) comprised 9.8 percent of the state’s population.
  • Colorado was home to 250,879 women, 249,029 men, and 37,158 children who were immigrants.
  • The top countries of origin for immigrants were Mexico (43.3 percent of immigrants), India (4.4 percent), Vietnam (3.2 percent), Germany (3.2 percent), and China (3.1 percent).
  • In 2016, 508,934 people in Colorado (9.4 percent of the state’s population) were native-born Americans who had at least one immigrant parent.

More than a third of all immigrants in Colorado are naturalized U.S. citizens.

  • 207,694 immigrants (38.7 percent) had naturalized as of 2015, and 115,709 immigrants were eligible to become naturalized U.S. citizens in 2015.
  • The majority (72.6 percent) of immigrants reported speaking English “well” or “very well.” 

Immigrants in Colorado are concentrated at both ends of the educational spectrum.

  • More than one in four adult immigrants had a college degree or more education in 2015, while fewer than one in three had less than a high school diploma. 

Education Level

Share (%) of All Immigrants

Share (%) of All Natives

College degree or more

27.0

41.0

Some college

17.5

32.0

High school diploma only

23.2

21.5

Less than a high-school diploma

32.3

5.5

More than 140,000 U.S. citizens in Colorado live with at least one family member who is undocumented.

  • 200,000 undocumented immigrants comprised 37 percent of the immigrant population and 3.8 percent of the total state population in 2014.
  • An estimated 276,589 people in Colorado, including 127,582 born in the United States, lived with at least one undocumented family member between 2010 and 2014.
  • During the same period, 1 in 11 children in the state was a U.S. citizen living with at least one undocumented family member (110,634 children in total).

More than 15,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients live in Colorado.

  • As of 2016, 82 percent of DACA-eligible immigrants in Colorado, or 19,103 people, had applied for DACA.
  • An additional 6,000 residents of the state satisfied all but the educational requirements for DACA, and another 4,000 would be eligible as they grew older. 

One in nine workers in Colorado is an immigrant, together making up an important part of the state’s labor force across industries.

  • 342,387 immigrant workers comprised 11.8 percent of the labor force in 2015.
  • Immigrant workers were most numerous in the following industries:

Industry

Number of Immigrant Workers

Construction

59,034

Accommodation and Food Services

43,882

Health Care and Social Assistance

36,974

Retail Trade

36,901

Administrative & Support; Waste Management; and Remediation Services

33,283

Analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey 1-year PUMS data by the American Immigration Council.

 

  • The largest shares of immigrant workers were in the following industries:

Industry

Immigrant Share (%)
(of all industry workers)

Construction

22.6

Administrative & Support; Waste Management; and Remediation Services

20.6

Accommodation and Food Services

15.9

Manufacturing

14.9

Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting

14.1

Analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey 1-year PUMS data by the American Immigration Council.

 

Immigrants are an integral part of the Colorado workforce in a range of occupations.

  • In 2015, immigrant workers were most numerous in the following occupation groups:

Occupation Category

Number of Immigrant Workers

Construction and Extraction

55,897

Building and Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance

42,077

Office and Administrative Support

33,844

Sales and Related

32,906

Food Preparation and Serving Related

30,416

Analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey 1-year PUMS data by the American Immigration Council.

 

  • The largest shares of immigrant workers were in the following occupation groups:

Occupation Category

Immigrant Share (%)
(of all workers in occupation)

Building and Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance

31.9

Construction and Extraction

27.5

Farming, Fishing, and Forestry

22.6

Production

21.2

Transportation and Material Moving

14.7

Analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey 1-year PUMS data by the American Immigration Council.

 

  • Undocumented immigrants comprised 4.9 percent of the state’s workforce in 2014.

Immigrants in Colorado have contributed billions of dollars in taxes.

  • Immigrant-led households in the state paid $2.3 billion in federal taxes and $1 billion in state and local taxes in 2014.
  • Undocumented immigrants in Colorado paid an estimated $139.5 million in state and local taxes in 2014. Their contribution would rise to $172.3 million if they could receive legal status.
  • DACA recipients in Colorado paid an estimated $34 million in state and local taxes in 2016.

As consumers, immigrants add billions of dollars to Colorado’s economy.

  • Colorado residents in immigrant-led households had $10.8 billion in spending power (after-tax income) in 2014.

Immigrant entrepreneurs in Colorado generate hundreds of millions of dollars in business revenue.

  • 35,162 immigrant business owners accounted for 10.4 percent of all self-employed Colorado residents in 2015 and generated $826 million in business income.
  • In 2015, immigrants accounted for 13.8 percent of business owners in the Denver/Aurora metropolitan area.

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