Immigrants in Georgia

June 4, 2020

Georgia has a sizeable immigrant community, much of which hails from Mexico. One in ten Georgians was born in another country, while 1 in 13 residents is a native-born U.S. citizen with at least one immigrant parent. The state benefits from the various ways foreign-born residents participate in the economy and labor force, with immigrants accounting for one-quarter of all farmers, fishers, and foresters in the state and one-quarter of computer and math science employees. As neighbors, business owners, taxpayers, and workers, immigrants are an integral part of Georgia’s diverse and thriving communities and make extensive contributions that benefit all.

One in ten Georgia residents is an immigrant, while 7 percent of residents are native-born U.S. citizens with at least one immigrant parent.

  • In 2018, 1.1 million immigrants (foreign-born individuals) comprised 10 percent of the population.
  • Georgia was home to 502,347 women, 493,737 men, and 67,989 children who were immigrants.
  • The top countries of origin for immigrants were Mexico (22 percent of immigrants), India (9 percent), Jamaica (4 percent), Korea (4 percent), and Guatemala (4 percent).
  • In 2018, 717,062 people in Georgia (7 percent of the state’s population) were native-born Americans who had at least one immigrant parent.

More than two in five immigrants in Georgia are naturalized U.S. citizens.

  • 480,192 immigrants (45 percent) had naturalized as of 2018, and 182,406 immigrants were eligible to become naturalized U.S. citizens in 2017.
  • More than three-fourths (78 percent) of immigrants reported speaking English “well” or “very well.”

Immigrants in Georgia are concentrated at either end of the educational spectrum.

  • More than a third (35 percent) of adult immigrants had a college degree or more education in 2018, while one-quarter (25 percent) had less than a high school diploma. 

Education Level

Share (%) of All Immigrants

Share (%) of All Natives

College degree or more

35

31

Some college

18

29

High school diploma only

22

29

Less than a high school diploma

25

10

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2018 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates.

More than 236,000 U.S. citizens in Georgia live with at least one family member who is undocumented.

  • 400,000 undocumented immigrants comprised 36 percent of the immigrant population and 4 percent of the total state population in 2016.
  • 503,155 people in Georgia, including 236,662 U.S. citizens, lived with at least one undocumented family member between 2010 and 2014.
  • During the same period, about 1 in 13 children in the state was a U.S. citizen living with at least one undocumented family member (186,822 children in total).

Georgia is home to nearly 21,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients.

  • 20,900 active DACA recipients lived in Georgia as of 2019, while DACA has been granted to 79,494 million people in total since 2012.
  • As of 2019, 48 percent of DACA-eligible immigrants in Georgia had applied for DACA.
  • An additional 16,000 residents of the state would satisfy all but the educational requirements for DACA, and fewer than 2,000 would become eligible as they grew older.

One in eight workers in Georgia is an immigrant, together making up a vital part of the state’s labor force in a range of industries.

  • 701,962 immigrant workers comprised 13 percent of the labor force in 2018.
  • Immigrant workers were most numerous in the following industries:

Industry

Number of Immigrant Workers

Manufacturing

99,559

Construction

89,245

Retail Trade

84,638

Health Care and Social Assistance

72,848

Accommodation and Food Services

63,971

Source: Analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 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

23

Other Services (except Public Administration)

17

Administrative & Support; Waste Management; and Remediation Services

16

Manufacturing

16

Information

14

Source: Analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey 1-year PUMS data by the American Immigration Council.

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

  • In 2018, immigrant workers were most numerous in the following occupation groups:

Occupation Category

Number of Immigrant Workers

Construction and Extraction

77,966

Production

68,321

Management

67,532

Sales and Related

67,197

Transportation and Material Moving

63,057

Source: Analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 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)

Construction and Extraction

26

Computer and Mathematical

25

Farming, Fishing, and Forestry

25

Building and Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance

22

Production

18

Source: Analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey 1-year PUMS data by the American Immigration Council.

  • Undocumented immigrants comprised 5 percent of Georgia’s workforce in 2016.

Immigrants in Georgia have contributed billions of dollars in taxes.

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

  • Georgia residents in immigrant-led households had $26.3 billion in spending power (after-tax income) in 2018.

Immigrant entrepreneurs in Georgia generate nearly $2 billion in business revenue.

  • 88,290 immigrant business owners accounted for 17 percent of all self-employed Georgia residents in 2018 and generated $1.8 billion in business income.
  • In 2018, nearly one-quarter (23 percent) of business owners in the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta metropolitan area were immigrants.

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