Immigrants in Louisiana

October 6, 2017

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 nearly 23 percent of residents working in farming, fishing, and forestry occupations. As workers, business owners, taxpayers, and neighbors, immigrants are an integral part of Louisiana’s diverse and thriving communities and make extensive contributions that benefit all.

Roughly 4 percent of Louisiana residents are immigrants, while more than 3 percent are native-born U.S. citizens with at least one immigrant parent.

  • In 2015, 186,369 immigrants (foreign-born individuals) comprised 4 percent of the state’s population.
  • Louisiana was home to 86,126 women, 86,684 men, and 13,559 children who were immigrants.
  • The top countries of origin for immigrants were Mexico (14.5 percent of immigrants), Honduras (14.4 percent), Vietnam (12.8 percent), India (4.1 percent), and Cuba (3.8 percent).
  • In 2016, 151,976 people in Louisiana (3.3 percent of the state’s population) were native-born Americans who had at least one immigrant parent.

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

  • 76,294 immigrants (40.9 percent) had naturalized as of 2015, and 31,759 immigrants were eligible to become naturalized U.S. citizens in 2015.
  • Nearly three-quarters of immigrants (73.3 percent) reported speaking English “well” or “very well.”

Immigrants in Louisiana are distributed across the educational spectrum.

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

Education Level

Share (%) of All Immigrants

Share (%) of All Natives

College degree or more

24.6

23.1

Some college

18.7

27.7

High school diploma only

28.9

34.4

Less than a high-school diploma

27.9

14.7

More than 25,000 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 1.5 percent of the total state population in 2014.
  • 60,231 people in Louisiana, including 24,016 born in the United States, lived with at least one undocumented family member between 2010 and 2014.
  • During the same period, 2 percent of children in the state were U.S. citizens living with at least one undocumented family member (19,679 children in total).

Nearly 2,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients live in Louisiana.

  • As of 2016, 47 percent of DACA-eligible immigrants in Louisiana, or 2,421 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 2,000 others would be additionally eligible as they grew older.

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

  • 117,672 immigrant workers comprised 5.4 percent of the labor force in 2015.
  • Immigrant workers were most numerous in the following industries:

Industry

Number of Immigrant Workers

Construction

19,564

Accommodation and Food Services

17,308

Other Services (except Public Administration)

12,776

Retail Trade

11,902

Manufacturing

11,127

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

13.3

Construction

9.7

Other Services (except Public Administration)

9.4

Accommodation and Food Services

7.4

Wholesale Trade

5.9

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

Immigrants are critical to the Louisiana 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

19,425

Food Preparation and Serving Related

12,858

Sales and Related

11,359

Production

10,230

Building and Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance

10,074

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

22.9

Life, Physical, and Social Sciences

12.0

Construction and Extraction

10.4

Building and Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance

9.6

Computer and Mathematical Sciences

9.5

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

  • Undocumented immigrants comprised 2.2 percent of the state’s workforce in 2014.

Immigrants in Louisiana have contributed billions of dollars in taxes.

  • Immigrant-led households in the state paid $966.7 million in federal taxes and $363.3 million in state and local taxes in 2014.
  • Undocumented immigrants in Louisiana paid an estimated $68 million in state and local taxes in 2014. Their contribution would rise to $83.2 million if they could receive legal status.
  • DACA recipients in Louisiana paid an estimated $7.5 million in state and local taxes in 2016.

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

  • Louisiana residents in immigrant-led households had $3.6 billion in spending power (after-tax income) in 2014.

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

  • 19,531 immigrant business owners accounted for 9.3 percent of all self-employed Louisiana residents in 2015 and generated $395.4 million in business income.
  • In 2015, immigrants accounted for 14.9 percent of business owners in the New Orleans metropolitan area.

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