Immigrants in Illinois

October 4, 2017

Illinois has a growing community of immigrants, many hailing from Mexico. While one in seven residents in the state is an immigrant, over 20 percent of all business owners in the Chicago metropolitan area are immigrants. As workers, business owners, taxpayers, and neighbors, immigrants are an integral part of Illinois’ diverse and thriving communities and make extensive contributions that benefit all.

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

  • In 2015, 1.8 million immigrants (foreign-born individuals) comprised 14.2 percent of the population.
  • Illinois was home to 870,770 women, 863,196 men, and 92,190 children who were immigrants.
  • The top countries of origin for immigrants were Mexico (38.2 percent of immigrants), India (8.1 percent), Poland (7 percent), the Philippines (5 percent), and China (4.3 percent).
  • In 2016, 1.6 million people in Illinois (12.6 percent of the state’s population) were native-born Americans who had at least one immigrant parent.

Nearly half of all immigrants in Illinois are naturalized U.S. citizens.

  • 880,242 immigrants (48.2 percent) had naturalized as of 2015, and 326,135 immigrants were eligible to become naturalized U.S. citizens in 2015.
  • Nearly three-quarters (73.2 percent) of immigrants reported speaking English “well” or “very well.”

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

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

Education Level

Share (%) of All Immigrants

Share (%) of All Natives

College degree or more

30.2

33.6

Some college

17.9

31.4

High school diploma only

24.4

27.3

Less than a high-school diploma

27.6

7.7

More than a quarter-million U.S. citizens in Illinois live with at least one family member who is undocumented.

  • 450,000 undocumented immigrants comprised 24 percent of the immigrant population and 3.5 percent of the total state population in 2015.
  • 817,066 people in Illinois, including 343,532 born in the United States, lived with at least one undocumented family member between 2010 and 2014.
  • During the same period, 1 in 10 children in the state was a U.S. citizen living with at least one undocumented family member (395,179 children in total).

More than 35,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients live in Illinois.

  • As of 2016, 73 percent of DACA-eligible immigrants in Illinois, or 45,663 people, had applied for DACA.
  • An additional 18,000 residents of the state satisfied all but the educational requirements for DACA, and another 9,000 would be eligible as they grew older.

One in six workers in Illinois is an immigrant, together making up an important part of the state’s labor force in a range of industries.

  • 1.2 million immigrant workers comprised 17.9 percent of the labor force in 2015.
  • Immigrant workers were most numerous in the following industries:

Industry

Number of Immigrant Workers

Manufacturing

229,025

Health Care and Social Assistance

156,964

Accommodation and Food Services

138,107

Retail Trade

121,769

Administrative & Support; Waste Management; and Remediation Services

97,043

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)

Administrative & Support; Waste Management; and Remediation Services

27.2

Manufacturing

25.6

Accommodation and Food Services

24.5

Construction

22.3

Other Services (except Public Administration)

20.3

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 Illinois workforce in a range of occupations.

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

Occupation Category

Number of Immigrant Workers

Production

159,976

Transportation and Material Moving

126,768

Food Preparation and Serving Related

111,804

Office and Administrative Support

109,283

Sales and Related

103,265

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

34.5

Production

32.1

Computer and Mathematical Sciences

27.4

Food Preparation and Serving Related

24.5

Life, Physical, and Social Sciences

24.3

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

  • Five percent of Illinois’ workforce consisted of undocumented immigrants in 2014.

Immigrants in Illinois have contributed billions of dollars in taxes.

  • Immigrant-led households in the state paid $9.8 billion in federal taxes and $5.2 billion in state and local taxes in 2014.
  • Undocumented immigrants in Illinois paid an estimated $758.9 million in state and local taxes in 2014. Their contribution would rise to over $917.4 million if they could receive legal status.
  • DACA recipients in Illinois paid an estimated $131 million in state and local taxes in 2016.

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

  • Illinois residents in immigrant-led households had $40.1 billion in spending power (after-tax income) in 2014.

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

  • 119,404 immigrant business owners accounted for 21.3 percent of all self-employed Illinois residents in 2015 and generated more than $2.5 billion in business income.
  • In 2015, immigrants accounted for 20.3 percent of business owners in the Chicago/Naperville/Joliet metropolitan area (which stretches from Wisconsin to Indiana through Illinois) and 6.5 percent of business owners in the St. Louis metro area (which straddles Illinois and Missouri).

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