Immigrants in Minnesota

August 6, 2020

Minnesota has a sizable immigrant community, much of which emigrated from Mexico and Somalia. Foreign-born individuals account for nearly one in ten Minnesotans, while 7 percent of residents are native-born Americans who have at least one immigrant parent. Across sectors, immigrants support the state’s economy. For example, one in five Minnesota healthcare support employees is an immigrant, as are nearly one in five residents working in the computer and math sciences. As neighbors, business owners, taxpayers, and workers, immigrants are an integral part of Minnesota’s diverse and thriving communities and make extensive contributions that benefit all.

Nearly 10 percent of Minnesota residents are immigrants, while 7 percent of residents are native-born U.S. citizens with at least one immigrant parent.

  • In 2018, 484,192 immigrants (foreign-born individuals) comprised 9 percent of the population.
  • Minnesota was home to 226,546 women, 210,832 men, and 46,814 children who were immigrants.
  • The top countries of origin for immigrants were Mexico (12 percent of immigrants), Somalia (8 percent), India (6 percent), Laos (5 percent), and Ethiopia (5 percent).
  • In 2018, 417,832 people in Minnesota (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 Minnesota are naturalized U.S. citizens.

  • 255,008 immigrants (53 percent) had naturalized as of 2018, and 81,309 immigrants were eligible to become naturalized U.S. citizens in 2017.
  • Four in five (81 percent) immigrants reported speaking English “well” or “very well.”

Immigrants in Minnesota are concentrated at either end of the educational spectrum.

  • More than a third (34 percent) of adult immigrants had a college degree or more education in 2018, while nearly a quarter (24 percent) had less than a high school diploma. 

Education Level

Share (%) of All Immigrants

Share (%) of All Natives

College degree or more

34

37

Some college

22

34

High school diploma only

20

25

Less than a high school diploma

24

5

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

More than 64,000 U.S. citizens in Minnesota live with at least one family member who is undocumented.

  • 95,000 undocumented immigrants comprised 20 percent of the immigrant population and 2 percent of the total state population in 2016.
  • 138,664 people in Minnesota, including 64,136 U.S. citizens, lived with at least one undocumented family member between 2010 and 2014.
  • During the same period, about 4 percent of children in the state were U.S. citizens living with at least one undocumented family member (48,292 children in total).

Minnesota is home to over 5,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients.

  • 5,180 active DACA recipients lived in Minnesota as of March 2020, while DACA has been granted to 6,500 people in total since 2012.
  • As of 2019, 59 percent of DACA-eligible immigrants in Minnesota had applied for DACA.
  • An additional 2,000 residents of the state would satisfy all but the educational requirements for DACA, and fewer than a thousand would become eligible as they grew older.

More than one in ten workers in Minnesota is an immigrant, together making up a vital part of the state’s labor force in a range of industries.

  • 326,010 immigrant workers comprised 11 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

65,425

Manufacturing

63,707

Retail Trade

35,742

Educational Services

29,921

Accommodation and Food Services

29,737

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)

Administrative & Support; Waste Management; and Remediation Services

16

Manufacturing

14

Transportation and Warehousing

14

Accommodation and Food Services

14

Health Care and Social Assistance

11

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 Minnesota workforce in a range of occupations.

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

Occupation Category

Number of Immigrant Workers

Production

45,478

Office and Administrative Support

33,048

Transportation and Material Moving

30,108

Sales and Related

28,167

Building and Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance

25,314

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)

Healthcare Support

20

Building and Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance

19

Production

19

Computer and Mathematical

18

Architecture and Engineering

14

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 Minnesota’s workforce in 2016.

Immigrants in Minnesota have contributed billions of dollars in taxes.

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

  • Minnesota residents in immigrant-led households had $11.2 billion in spending power (after-tax income) in 2018.

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

  • 20,219 immigrant business owners accounted for 7 percent of all self-employed Minnesota residents in 2018 and generated $576.2 million in business income.
  • In the Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington metropolitan area in 2018, 11 percent of business owners were immigrants.

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