Immigrants in Louisiana

August 6, 2020

Louisiana is home to a small but growing number of immigrants who make up 4 percent of the state’s total population. While their share is small, immigrants are an essential part of the Louisiana labor force, accounting for 13 percent of residents working in farming, fishing, and forestry occupations. The majority of immigrants speak English well and are naturalized citizens or eligible for naturalization. As neighbors, business owners, taxpayers, and workers, immigrants are an integral part of Louisiana’s diverse and thriving communities and make extensive contributions that benefit all.

Four percent of Louisiana residents are immigrants, while another 4 percent of residents are native-born U.S. citizens with at least one immigrant parent.

  • In 2018, 195,027 immigrants (foreign-born individuals) comprised 4 percent of the population.
  • Louisiana was home to 83,031 women, 93,628 men, and 18,368 children who were immigrants.
  • The top countries of origin for immigrants were Mexico (16 percent of immigrants), Honduras (15 percent), Vietnam (10 percent), the Philippines (5 percent), and Guatemala (4 percent).
  • In 2018, 199,405 people in Louisiana (4 percent of the state’s population) were native-born Americans who had at least one immigrant parent.

Two out of five immigrants in Louisiana are naturalized U.S. citizens.

  • 77,832 immigrants (40 percent) had naturalized as of 2018, and 35,239 immigrants were eligible to become naturalized U.S. citizens in 2017.
  • Nearly three-fourths (73 percent) of immigrants reported speaking English “well” or “very well.”

Immigrants in Louisiana are distributed across the educational spectrum.

  • More than one-fourth (28 percent) of adult immigrants had a college degree or more education in 2018, while one-fourth (26 percent) had less than a high school diploma.

Education Level

Share (%) of All Immigrants

Share (%) of All Natives

College degree or more

28

24

Some college

19

28

High school diploma only

26

35

Less than a high school diploma

26

14

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

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

  • 70,000 undocumented immigrants comprised 36 percent of the immigrant population and 2 percent of the total state population in 2016.
  • 60,231 people in Louisiana, including 27,605 U.S. citizens, lived with at least one undocumented family member between 2010 and 2014.
  • During the same period, about 2 percent of children in the state were U.S. citizens living with at least one undocumented family member (19,679 children in total).

Louisiana is home to over a thousand Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients.

  • 1,730 active DACA recipients lived in Louisiana as of March 2020, while DACA has been granted to 2,152 people in total since 2012.
  • As of 2019, 35 percent of DACA-eligible immigrants in Louisiana had applied for DACA.
  • Fewer than 2,000 additional residents of the state would satisfy all but the educational requirements for DACA, and fewer than 1,000 would become eligible as they grew older.

Immigrants are an important part of the Louisiana workforce in a range of industries.

  • 115,054 immigrant workers comprised 5 percent of the labor force in 2018.
  • Immigrant workers were most numerous in the following industries:

Industry

Number of Immigrant Workers

Construction

26,848

Retail Trade

13,723

Other Services (except Public Administration)

13,382

Health Care and Social Assistance

12,149

Accommodation and Food Services

11,759

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

13

Other Services (except Public Administration)

10

Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, and Hunting

9

Real Estate and Rental and Leasing

6

Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services

6

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 Louisiana 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

26,992

Building and Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance

11,820

Management

10,601

Educational Instruction and Library

8,999

Food Preparation and Serving Related

8,792

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

15

Farming, Fishing, and Forestry

13

Building and Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance

11

Personal Care and Service

8

Life, Physical, and Social Science

6

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 2 percent of Louisiana’s workforce in 2016.

Immigrants in Louisiana have contributed over a billion dollars in taxes.

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

  • Louisiana residents in immigrant-led households had $3.5 billion in spending power (after-tax income) in 2018.

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

  • 23,310 immigrant business owners accounted for 10 percent of all self-employed Louisiana residents in 2018 and generated $438.9 million in business income.

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