Immigrants in Kansas

October 6, 2017

Kansas has a small but growing immigrant population. While just over 7 percent of Kansas’ residents are immigrants, they make up a larger percentage of the state’s labor force. Manufacturing, one of the most profitable industries in the state, relies on immigrants for nearly 18 percent of its employees. As workers, business owners, taxpayers, and neighbors, immigrants are an integral part of Kansas’ diverse and thriving communities and make extensive contributions that benefit all.

About 7 percent of Kansas residents are immigrants, and a similar share of residents are native-born U.S. citizens with at least one immigrant parent.

  • In 2015, 205,720 immigrants (foreign-born individuals) comprised 7.1 percent of the state’s population.
  • Kansas was home to roughly 91,909 women, 99,173 men, and 14,638 children who were immigrants.
  • The top countries of origin for immigrants were Mexico (40.5 percent of immigrants), India (6.2 percent), Vietnam (4.7 percent), China (4.2 percent), and Guatemala (2.7 percent).
  • 211,256 people in Kansas (7.4 percent of the state’s population) were native-born Americans who had at least one immigrant parent.

More than a third of all immigrants in Kansas are naturalized U.S. citizens.

  • 77,110 immigrants (37.5 percent) had naturalized as of 2015, and 35,555 immigrants were eligible to become naturalized U.S. citizens in 2015.
  • Almost three-quarters of immigrants (74.1 percent) reported speaking English “well” or “very well.”

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

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

Education Level

Share (%) of All Immigrants

Share (%) of All Natives

College degree or more

25.2

32.4

Some college

18.7

33.3

High school diploma only

21.0

27.1

Less than a high-school diploma

35.1

7.2

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

  • 75,000 undocumented immigrants comprised 35 percent of the immigrant population and 2.5 percent of the total state population in 2014.
  • 106,933 people in Kansas, including 48,640 born in the United States, lived with at least one undocumented family member between 2010 and 2014.
  • During the same period, 1 in 18 children in the state was a U.S.-citizen child living with at least one undocumented family member (42,661 children in total).

Nearly 6,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients live in Kansas.

  • In 2016, 87 percent of DACA-eligible immigrants in Kansas, or 7,301 applied for and received DACA.
  • An additional 3,000 residents of the state satisfied all but the educational requirements for DACA, and another 2,000 would be eligible as they grew older.

One in ten workers in Kansas is an immigrant, making up an integral part of the labor force in a range of industries.

  • Over 147,000 immigrant workers comprised 9.8 percent of the labor force in 2015.
  • Immigrant workers were most numerous in the following industries:

Industry

Number of Immigrant Workers

Manufacturing

35,834

Construction

17,389

Accommodation and Food Services

16,428

Health Care and Social Assistance

16,248

Retail Trade

15,865

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)

Manufacturing

17.7

Administrative & Support; Waste Management; and Remediation Services

15.3

Construction

15.0

Accommodation and Food Services

13.7

Information

9.7

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 Kansas 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

25,140

Construction and Extraction

18,223

Building and Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance

14,923

Transportation and Material Moving

14,050

Food Preparation and Serving Related

13,848

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

21.1

Production

20.7

Construction and Extraction

18.8

Life, Physical, and Social Sciences

18.6

Farming, Fishing, and Forestry

18.1

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

  • Undocumented immigrants comprised 3.4 percent of the state’s workforce in 2014.

Immigrants in Kansas have contributed more than a billion dollars in taxes.

  • Immigrant-led households in the state paid $960.6 million in federal taxes and $405.8 million in state and local taxes in 2014.
  • Undocumented immigrants in Kansas paid an estimated $67.8 million in state and local taxes in 2014. Their contribution would increase by nearly $10 million if they could receive legal status.
  • DACA recipients in Kansas paid an estimated $14.6 million in state and local taxes in 2016.

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

  • Kansas residents in immigrant-led households had $3.8 billion in spending power (after-tax income) in 2014.

Immigrant entrepreneurs in Kansas generate hundreds of millions of dollars in business revenue.

  • 32,198 immigrant business owners accounted for 25.1 percent of all self-employed Kansas residents in 2015 and generated $265.4 million in business income.
  • In 2015, immigrants accounted for 14.5 percent of business owners in the Kansas City metropolitan area.

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