Immigrants in Michigan

October 13, 2017

Michigan has a small but growing immigrant community. While less than 7 percent of the state’s residents were born in another country, they make up a vital, educated share of Michigan’s labor force. Nearly 40 percent of immigrants in the state possess a college or higher degree, and more than four in five report speaking English well. Michigan benefits from the various ways immigrants participate in the economy—from lending their skills as engineers and architects to making up nearly 11 percent of the state’s healthcare practitioners, technologists, and technicians. As workers, business owners, taxpayers, and neighbors, immigrants are an integral part of Michigan’s diverse and thriving communities and make extensive contributions that benefit all.

Nearly 7 percent of Michigan residents are immigrants, while almost 1 in 12 residents is a native-born U.S. citizen with at least one immigrant parent.

  • In 2015, 652,090 immigrants (foreign-born individuals) comprised 6.6 percent of the state’s population.
  • Michigan was home to 308,432 women, 295,273 men, and 48,385 children who were immigrants.
  • The top countries of origin for immigrants were Mexico (11.5 percent of immigrants), India (10.1 percent), Iraq (8.1 percent), China (5.9 percent), and Canada (5.4 percent).
  • In 2016, 762,606 people in Michigan (7.7 percent of the state’s population) were native-born Americans who had at least one immigrant parent.

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

  • 342,465 immigrants (52.5 percent) had naturalized as of 2015, and 124,804 immigrants were eligible to become naturalized U.S. citizens in 2015.
  • The vast majority of immigrants (82.2 percent) reported speaking English “well” or “very well.”

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

  • Two-fifths of adult immigrants had a college degree or more education in 2015, while over a fifth had less than a high school diploma. 

Education Level

Share (%) of All Immigrants

Share (%) of All Natives

College degree or more

39.9

26.7

Some college

18.9

34.2

High school diploma only

19.7

30.3

Less than a high-school diploma

21.4

8.8

More than 70,000 U.S. citizens in Michigan live with at least one family member who is undocumented.

  • 130,000 undocumented immigrants comprised 20 percent of the immigrant population and 1.3 percent of the total state population in 2014.
  • 157,529 people in Michigan, including 60,448 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 (52,748 children in total).

More than 5,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients live in Michigan.

  • As of 2016, 72 percent of DACA-eligible immigrants in Michigan, or 7,339 people, had applied for 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.

Immigrants are an important part of Michigan’s labor force across industries.

  • 377,024 immigrant workers comprised 7.7 percent of the labor force in 2015.
  • Immigrant workers were most numerous in the following industries:

Industry

Number of Immigrant Workers

Manufacturing

94,152

Health Care and Social Assistance

59,561

Educational Services

40,166

Accommodation and Food Services

37,409

Retail Trade

35,211

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

16.1

Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services

10.5

Manufacturing

9.9

Wholesale Trade

8.6

Accommodation and Food Services

8.0

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

Immigrants are vital members of Michigan’s 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

41,006

Management

38,124

Sales and Related

34,974

Healthcare Practitioners, Technologists, and Technicians

33,764

Office and Administrative Support

33,231

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

20.4

Architecture and Engineering

19.3

Computer and Mathematical Sciences

17.9

Life, Physical, and Social Sciences

16.6

Healthcare Practitioners, Technologists, and Technicians

10.6

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

  • Undocumented immigrants comprised 1.7 percent of the state’s workforce in 2014.

Immigrants in Michigan have contributed billions of dollars in taxes.

  • Immigrant-led households in the state paid $3.8 billion in federal taxes and $1.5 billion in state and local taxes in 2014.
  • Undocumented immigrants in Michigan paid an estimated $86.7 million in state and local taxes in 2014. Their contribution would rise to $113.9 million if they could receive legal status.
  • DACA recipients in Michigan paid an estimated $15.9 million in state and local taxes in 2016.

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

  • Michigan residents in immigrant-led households had $14.2 billion in spending power (after-tax income) in 2014.

Immigrant entrepreneurs in Michigan generate over a half-billion dollars in annual business revenue.

  • 37,299 immigrant business owners accounted for 8.7 percent of all self-employed Michigan residents in 2015 and generated $683.8 million in business income.
  • In 2015, immigrants accounted for 20.3 percent of business owners in the Detroit/Warren/Livonia metropolitan area and 17.3 percent in the Grand Rapids/Wyoming metro area.

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