Immigrants in Maine

August 6, 2020

Maine has a small but growing community of immigrants, many of whom emigrated from Canada. While only 4 percent of Maine residents are immigrants, 7 percent are native-born Americans with at least one immigrant parent. Foreign-born Mainers make up a vital, educated share of the labor force: over a third of immigrants in the state possess a college or higher degree and nine out of ten report speaking English well.

Across sectors, immigrants help support Maine’s economy—from working as artists, entertainers, and athletes, to accounting for 7 percent of the state’s transportation and warehousing employees. As neighbors, business owners, taxpayers, and workers, immigrants are an integral part of Maine’s diverse and thriving communities and make extensive contributions that benefit all.

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

  • In 2018, 47,418 immigrants (foreign-born individuals) comprised 4 percent of the population.
  • Maine was home to 23,378 women, 18,641 men, and 5,399 children who were immigrants.
  • The top countries of origin for immigrants were Canada (18 percent of immigrants), the Philippines (9 percent), Germany (7 percent), India (6 percent), and Korea (5 percent).
  • In 2018, 90,635 people in Maine (7 percent of the state’s population) were native-born Americans who had at least one immigrant parent.

More than half of all immigrants in Maine are naturalized U.S. citizens.

  • 24,885 immigrants (52 percent) had naturalized as of 2018, and 12,413 immigrants were eligible to become naturalized U.S. citizens in 2017.
  • Nine in ten (90 percent) immigrants reported speaking English “well” or “very well.”

Most immigrants in Maine have pursued education at the college level or above.

  • More than one-third (35 percent) of adult immigrants had a college degree or more education in 2018, while under one-fifth (18 percent) had less than a high school diploma.

Education Level

Share (%) of All Immigrants

Share (%) of All Natives

College degree or more

35

31

Some college

25

30

High school diploma only

22

32

Less than a high school diploma

18

7

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

Thousands of U.S. citizens in Maine live with at least one family member who is undocumented.

  • Fewer than 5,000 undocumented immigrants comprised 9 percent of the immigrant population and less than half a percent of the total state population in 2016.
  • 5,334 people in Maine, including 2,206 U.S. citizens, lived with at least one undocumented family member between 2010 and 2014.
  • During the same period, 1,206 children in the state were U.S. citizens living with at least one undocumented family member.

Maine is home to a small number of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients.

  • 50 active DACA recipients lived in Maine as of March 2020, while DACA has been granted to about 44 people in total since 2012.

Immigrants are vital members of the Maine labor force in a range of industries.

  • 28,129 immigrant workers comprised 4 percent of the labor force in 2018.  
  • Immigrant workers were most numerous in the following industries:

Industry

Number of Immigrant Workers

Health Care and Social Assistance

5,871

Retail Trade

4,416

Educational Services

3,889

Manufacturing

3,755

Other Services (except Public Administration)

2,349

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)

Transportation and Warehousing

7

Other Services (except Public Administration)

6

Administrative & Support; Waste Management; and Remediation Services

6

Manufacturing

5

Educational Services

5

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 Maine workforce in a range of occupations.

  • In 2018, immigrant workers were most numerous in the following occupation groups:

Occupation Category

Number of Immigrant Workers

Management

3,899

Office and Administrative Support

3,477

Building and Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance

3,240

Transportation and Material Moving

3,171

Production

2,994

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)

Building and Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance

8

Computer and Mathematical

6

Production

6

Healthcare Support

5

Transportation and Material Moving

5

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 less than half a percent of Maine’s workforce in 2016.

Immigrants in Maine have contributed hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes.

As consumers, immigrants add over a billion dollars to Maine’s economy.

  • Maine residents in immigrant-led households had $1.4 billion in spending power (after-tax income) in 2018.

Immigrant entrepreneurs in Maine generate millions of dollars in business revenue.

  • 2,368 immigrant business owners accounted for 2 percent of all self-employed Maine residents in 2018 and generated $15.3 million in business income.

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