Immigrants in Florida

October 4, 2017

Florida has long been home to a large number of immigrants, many of whom hail from the Caribbean. One in five residents in the state is an immigrant, together making up more than a fourth of Florida’s labor force. As workers, business owners, taxpayers, and neighbors, immigrants are an integral part of Florida’s diverse and thriving communities and make extensive contributions that benefit all.

One in five Florida residents is an immigrant, while nearly one in eight is a native-born U.S. citizen with at least one immigrant parent.

  • In 2015, 4.1 million immigrants (foreign-born individuals) comprised 20.2 percent of the population.
  • Florida was home to 2 million women, 1.8 million men, and 219,060 children who were immigrants.
  • The top countries of origin for immigrants were Cuba (22.8 percent of immigrants), Haiti (8.3 percent), Mexico (6.8 percent), Colombia (6 percent), and Jamaica (5 percent).
  • In 2016, 2.5 million people in Florida (12.5 percent of the state’s population) were native-born Americans who had at least one immigrant parent.

Over half of all immigrants in Florida are naturalized U.S. citizens.

  • 2.2 million immigrants (53.7 percent) had naturalized as of 2015, and 784,395 immigrants were eligible to become naturalized U.S. citizens in 2015.
  • The majority (72.4 percent) of immigrants reported speaking English “well” or “very well.”

Immigrants in Florida are distributed across the educational spectrum.

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

Education Level

Share (%) of All Immigrants

Share (%) of All Natives

College degree or more

26.7

29.0

Some college

22.8

32.4

High school diploma only

28.3

29.5

Less than a high-school diploma

22.2

9.1

Hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens in Florida live with at least one family member who is undocumented.

  • 850,000 undocumented immigrants comprised 20 percent of the immigrant population and 4.2 percent of the total state population in 2014.
  • 909,104 people in Florida, including 336,151 born in the United States, lived with at least one undocumented family member between 2010 and 2014.
  • During the same period, 1 in 14 children in the state was a U.S. citizen living with at least one undocumented family member (280,133 children in total).

More than 25,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients live in Florida.

  • As of 2016, 55 percent of DACA-eligible immigrants in Florida, or 39,843 people, had applied for DACA.
  • An additional 20,000 residents of the state satisfied all but the educational requirements for DACA, and another 10,000 would be eligible as they grew older.

Immigrants make up a quarter of the labor force in Florida and are integral to a range of industries.

  • 2.5 million immigrant workers comprised 25.4 percent of the labor force in 2015. 
  • Immigrant workers were most numerous in the following industries:

Industry

Number of Immigrant Workers

Health Care and Social Assistance

368,473

Retail Trade

314,035

Accommodation and Food Services

290,263

Construction

247,988

Administrative & Support; Waste Management; and Remediation Services

194,458

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)

Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting

45.4

Other Services (except Public Administration)

32.5

Construction

30.9

Transportation and Warehousing

29.3

Wholesale Trade

27.9


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 Florida workforce in a range of occupations.

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

Occupation Category

Number of Immigrant Workers

Sales and Related

309,896

Office and Administrative Support

303,738

Building and Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance

245,424

Management

234,953

Construction and Extraction

209,964

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)

Farming, Fishing, and Forestry

54.4

Building and Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance

43.0

Construction and Extraction

35.6

Healthcare Support

34.8

Production

31.2

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

  • Undocumented immigrants comprised 6.2 percent of the state’s workforce in 2014.

Immigrants in Florida have contributed billions of dollars in taxes.

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

  • Florida residents in immigrant-led households had $73.1 billion in spending power (after-tax income) in 2014.

Immigrant entrepreneurs in Florida generate billions of dollars in business revenue.

  • 381,117 immigrant business owners accounted for 30.7 percent of all self-employed Florida residents in 2015 and generated $5.6 billion in business income.
  • In 2015, immigrants accounted for 61.6 percent of business owners in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale/Miami Beach metropolitan area, 23.7 percent in the Orlando metro area, and 21.7 percent in the Tampa/St. Petersburg/Clearwater metro area.

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