Immigrants in Maine

October 13, 2017

Maine has a small but growing immigrant community, much of which emigrated from Canada. While only 3 percent of Maine residents are immigrants, over 9 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 92 percent report speaking English well. Across sectors, immigrants help support Maine’s economy—from working as artists, entertainers, and athletes, to accounting for over 25 percent of the state’s extraction industry employees. As workers, business owners, taxpayers, and neighbors, immigrants are an integral part of Maine’s diverse and thriving communities and make extensive contributions that benefit all.

Over 3 percent of Mainers are immigrants, while 1 in 12 residents is a native-born U.S. citizen with at least one immigrant parent.

  • In 2015, 44,694 immigrants (foreign-born individuals) comprised 3.4 percent of the state’s population.
  • Maine was home to 23,938 women, 17,285 men, and 3,471 children who were immigrants.
  • The top countries of origin for immigrants were Canada (21.8 percent of immigrants), the Philippines (7.9 percent), England (5 percent), India (4.7 percent), and Mexico (4.2 percent).
  • In 2016, 114,366 people in Maine (8.5 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.

  • Over 25,000 immigrants had naturalized as of 2015, and 11,571 immigrants were eligible to become naturalized U.S. citizens in 2015.
  • More than 9 in 10 immigrants (91.8 percent) reported speaking English “well” or “very well.”

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

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

Education Level

Share (%) of All Immigrants

Share (%) of All Natives

College degree or more

34.1

30.0

Some college

27.5

29.0

High school diploma only

23.2

33.1

Less than a high-school diploma

15.2

8.0

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

  • In 2014, fewer than 5,000 undocumented immigrants comprised 8 percent of the immigrant population, or a fraction of the total state population at 0.3 percent.
  • Yet 5,334 people in Maine—including 1,517 born in the United States—lived with at least one undocumented family member between 2010 and 2014.
  • During the same period, 1,206 U.S.-citizen children (about 0.5 percent of all children in the state) were living with at least one undocumented family member.

Fewer than 50 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients live in Maine.

  • As of 2017, 139 people in Maine had applied for DACA.
  • DACA recipients in Maine paid an estimated $256,000 in state and local taxes in 2016.

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

  • 25,433 immigrant workers comprised 3.7 percent of the labor force in 2015.
  • Immigrant workers were most numerous in the following industries:

Industry

Number of Immigrant Workers

Health Care and Social Assistance

5,125

Educational Services

3,748

Retail Trade

3,249

Accommodation and Food Services

3,152

Manufacturing

2,346

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)

Mining, Quarry, Oil & Gas Extract

26.5

Transportation and Warehousing

5.7

Finance and Insurance

5.5

Wholesale Trade

5.0

Accommodation and Food Services

4.8

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

Immigrants are an important part of the Maine workforce across occupations.

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

Occupation Category

Number of Immigrant Workers

Office and Administrative Support

4,081

Production

2,557

Building and Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance

2,471

Food Preparation and Serving Related

2,456

Healthcare Practitioners, Technologists, and Technicians

2,416

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)

Computer and Mathematical Sciences

6.6

Building and Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance

6.3

Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media

6.2

Military Specific

6.0

Production

5.6

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

  • Undocumented immigrants comprised a fraction of the state’s workforce at 0.4 percent in 2014.

Immigrants in Maine have contributed millions of dollars in taxes.

As consumers, immigrants add hundreds of millions of dollars to Maine’s economy every year.

  • Mainers in immigrant-led households had $953.9 million in spending power (after-tax income) in 2014.

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

  • 2,245 immigrant business owners accounted for 2.2 percent of all self-employed Mainers in 2015 and generated more than $48 million in business income.

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