Immigrants in Georgia

October 13, 2017

Georgia has a sizeable immigrant community, much of which hails from Mexico. Ten percent of the state’s population was born in another country, while 1 in 13 Georgians 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 nearly 40 percent of all farmers, fishers, and foresters in the state and almost 25 percent of computer and math science employees. As workers, business owners, taxpayers, and neighbors, 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 nearly 8 percent of residents are native-born U.S. citizens who have at least one immigrant parent.

  • In 2015, 1 million immigrants (foreign-born individuals) comprised 10 percent of the state’s population.
  • Georgia was home to 473,617 women, 480,242 men, and 69,858 children who were immigrants.
  • The top countries of origin for immigrants were Mexico (25.7 percent of immigrants), India (8.6 percent), Korea (4.1 percent), Vietnam (3.5 percent), and Jamaica (3.2 percent).
  • In 2016, 787,941 people in Georgia (7.8 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.

  • 428,570 immigrants (41.9 percent) had naturalized as of 2015, and 174,413 immigrants were eligible to become naturalized U.S. citizens in 2015.
  • Three in four immigrants (74.9 percent) reported speaking English “well” or “very well.”

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

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

Education Level

Share (%) of All Immigrants

Share (%) of All Natives

College degree or more

31.6

29.7

Some college

18.0

29.6

High school diploma only

23.1

28.9

Less than a high-school diploma

27.3

11.8

More than 200,000 U.S. citizens in Georgia live with at least one family member who is undocumented.

  • 375,000 undocumented immigrants comprised 36 percent of the immigrant population and 3.6 percent of the total state population in 2014.
  • 503,155 people in Georgia, including 211,239 born in the United States, lived with at least one undocumented family member between 2010 and 2014.
  • During the same period, 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).

Nearly 22,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients live in Georgia.

  • As of 2016, 60 percent of DACA-eligible immigrants in Georgia, or 28,589 people, had applied for DACA.
  • An additional 17,000 residents of the state satisfied all but the educational requirements for DACA, and another 8,000 would be eligible as they grew older.

Nearly one in seven workers in Georgia is an immigrant, together making up a critical share of the labor force across industries.

  • 684,887 immigrant workers comprised 13.8 percent of the labor force in 2015.
  • Immigrant workers were most numerous in the following industries:

Industry

Number of Immigrant Workers

Manufacturing

95,176

Construction

91,924

Retail Trade

76,249

Accommodation and Food Services

73,083

Health Care and Social Assistance

65,197

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

26.3

Construction

24.9

Other Services (except Public Administration)

17.4

Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services

17.0

Manufacturing

15.8

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 Georgia 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

79,630

Sales and Related

66,883

Production

66,573

Office and Administrative Support

65,703

Management

63,565

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

38.5

Construction and Extraction

27.4

Computer and Mathematical Sciences

24.5

Building and Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance

23.1

Production

18.4

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

  • Undocumented immigrants comprised 5.2 percent of the state’s workforce in 2014.

Immigrants in Georgia have contributed billions of dollars in taxes.

  • Immigrant-led households in the state paid $4.7 billion in federal taxes and $2.2 billion in state and local taxes in 2014.
  • Undocumented immigrants in Georgia paid an estimated $351.7 million in state and local taxes in 2014. Their contribution would rise to $455.6 million if they could receive legal status.
  • DACA recipients in Georgia paid an estimated $71.7 million in state and local taxes in 2016.

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

  • Georgia residents in immigrant-led households had $19.2 billion in spending power (after-tax income) in 2014.

Nearly one in five self-employed business owners in Georgia is an immigrant.

  • 90,458 immigrant business owners accounted for 18.3 percent of all self-employed Georgia residents in 2015 and generated $1.8 billion in business income.
  • In 2015, immigrants accounted for 18.1 percent of business owners in the Atlanta/Sandy Springs/Marietta metropolitan area.

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