Immigrants in Idaho

October 5, 2017

Idaho has a small but growing immigrant population. While only 6 percent of the state’s residents are immigrants, they represent a greater share of the workforce. Idaho’s farming and fishing industry—one of the state’s top economic drivers—benefits from immigrants who make up over 40 percent of its labor force. As workers, business owners, taxpayers, and neighbors, immigrants are an integral part of Idaho’s diverse and thriving communities and make extensive contributions that benefit all.

Nearly 6 percent of Idaho residents are immigrants, while 7 percent are native-born U.S. citizens with at least one immigrant parent.

  • In 2015, 94,364 immigrants (foreign-born individuals) comprised 5.7 percent of the population.
  • Idaho was home to 44,478 women, 43,495 men, and 6,391 children who were immigrants.
  • The top countries of origin for immigrants were Mexico (53.2 percent of immigrants), Canada (4.5 percent), the Philippines (4.3 percent), China (3.6 percent), and Kuwait (2.7 percent).
  • 120,807 people in Idaho (7.3 percent of the state’s population) were native-born Americans who had at least one immigrant parent.

Nearly two in five immigrants in Idaho are naturalized U.S. citizens.

  • 35,909 immigrants (38 percent) had naturalized as of 2015, and 19,113 immigrants were eligible to become naturalized U.S. citizens in 2015.
  • The majority of immigrants (72.4 percent) reported speaking English “well” or “very well.”

Immigrants in Idaho have a range of educational experiences, and many lack a high school diploma.

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

Education Level

Share (%) of All Immigrants

Share (%) of All Natives

College degree or more

17.9

26.6

Some college

21.3

37.8

High school diploma only

20.0

28.0

Less than a high-school diploma

40.9

7.6

Nearly 30,000 U.S. citizens in Idaho live with at least one family member who is undocumented.

  • 45,000 undocumented immigrants comprised 42 percent of the immigrant population and 2.7 percent of the total state population in 2014.
  • 58,327 people in Idaho, including 26,926 born in the United States, lived with at least one undocumented family member between 2010 and 2014.
  • During the same period, 1 in 20 children in the state was a U.S.-citizen child living with at least one undocumented family member (22,905 children in total).

Nearly 3,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients live in Idaho.

  • As of 2016, 81 percent of DACA-eligible immigrants in Idaho, or 3,383 people, had applied for DACA.
  • Up to 2,000 additional residents of the state satisfied all but the educational requirements for DACA, and up to 1,000 others would be eligible as they grew older.

One in 12 workers in Idaho is an immigrant, together making up a vital part of the labor force across industries.

  • 61,112 immigrant workers comprised 8 percent of the labor force in 2015. 
  • Immigrant workers were most numerous in the following industries:

Industry

Number of Immigrant Workers

Manufacturing

13,118

Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting

10,735

Health Care and Social Assistance

6,808

Construction

6,549

Administrative & Support; Waste Management; and Remediation Services

5,968

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

22.6

Manufacturing

14.6

Administrative & Support; Waste Management; and Remediation Services

12.8

Construction

10.2

Real Estate Rental and Leasing

9.9

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 Idaho workforce in a range of occupations.

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

Occupation Category

Number of Immigrant Workers

Farming, Fishing, and Forestry

11,314

Office and Administrative Support

8,430

Construction and Extraction

6,779

Building and Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance

6,187

Production

5,967

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

40.5

Building and Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance

12.5

Construction and Extraction

11.9

Production

10.5

Architecture and Engineering

10.5

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 percent of the state’s workforce in 2014.

Immigrants in Idaho have contributed millions of dollars in taxes.

  • Immigrant-led households in the state paid $306.7 million in federal taxes and $154 million in state and local taxes in 2014.
  • Undocumented immigrants in Idaho paid an estimated $28.6 million in state and local taxes in 2014. Their contribution would rise to $34.6 million if they could receive legal status.
  • DACA recipients in Idaho paid an estimated $6 million in state and local taxes in 2016.

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

  • Idaho residents in immigrant-led households had $1.5 billion in spending power (after-tax income) in 2014.

Immigrant entrepreneurs in Idaho generate a hundred million dollars in business revenue.

  • 5,170 immigrant business owners accounted for 5.3 percent of all self-employed Idaho residents in 2015 and generated $104.2 million in business income.

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