Immigrants in Mississippi

October 13, 2017

Mississippi has a small but growing immigrant community, much of which emigrated from Mexico. While roughly 2 percent of Mississippi’s population was born in another country, foreign-born residents are an important part of the state’s labor force, especially in certain sectors. For example, 8 percent of employees in both Mississippi’s social sciences and construction fields are immigrants. As workers, business owners, taxpayers, and neighbors, immigrants are an integral part of Mississippi’s diverse and thriving communities and make extensive contributions that benefit all.

More than 2 percent of Mississippi residents are immigrants, while another 2 percent are native-born U.S. citizens with at least one immigrant parent.

  • In 2015, 72,258 immigrants (foreign-born individuals) comprised 2.4 percent of the state’s population.
  • Mississippi was home to 30,877 women, 35,461 men, and 5,920 children who were immigrants.
  • The top countries of origin for immigrants were Mexico (36 percent of immigrants), India (6.7 percent), Vietnam (6 percent), China (4.9 percent), and the Philippines (4.3 percent).
  • In 2016, 51,151 people in Mississippi (1.7 percent of the state’s population) were native-born Americans who had at least one immigrant parent.

A third of all immigrants in Mississippi are naturalized U.S. citizens.

  • 24,140 immigrants (33.4 percent) had naturalized as of 2015, and 13,300 immigrants were eligible to become naturalized U.S. citizens in 2015.
  • Three in four immigrants (75.1 percent) reported speaking English “well” or “very well.”

Immigrants in Mississippi are distributed across the educational spectrum.

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

Education Level

Share (%) of All Immigrants

Share (%) of All Natives

College degree or more

24.8

20.7

Some college

18.0

32.0

High school diploma only

24.7

31.2

Less than a high-school diploma

32.5

16.0

More than 11,000 U.S. citizens in Mississippi live with at least one family member who is undocumented.

  • In 2014, approximately 25,000 undocumented immigrants comprised 37 percent of the immigrant population, or a fraction of the total state population at 0.8 percent.
  • 26,954 people in Mississippi, including 10,195 born in the United States, lived with at least one undocumented family member between 2010 and 2014.
  • During the same period, 1 percent of children in the state were U.S. citizens living with at least one undocumented family member (8,876 children in total).

More than 1,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients live in Mississippi.

  • As of 2016, 61 percent of DACA-eligible immigrants in Mississippi, or 1,693 people, had applied for DACA.
  • An additional 2,000 residents of the state satisfied all but the educational requirements for DACA, and up to 1,000 others would be eligible as they grew older.

Immigrants are vital members of the Mississippi labor force across industries.

  • 34,901 immigrant workers comprised 2.6 percent of the labor force in 2015.
  • Immigrant workers were most numerous in the following industries:

Industry

Number of Immigrant Workers

Construction

6,402

Manufacturing

6,301

Accommodation and Food Services

4,284

Educational Services

4,173

Retail Trade

4,103

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)

Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation

6.8

Construction

6.1

Accommodation and Food Services

3.6

Wholesale Trade

3.1

Manufacturing

3.1

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 Mississippi 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

6,856

Production

4,694

Education, Training, and Library Services

3,419

Sales and Related

3,288

Food Preparation and Serving Related

3,092

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)

Life, Physical, and Social Sciences

7.9

Construction and Extraction

7.5

Military Specific

6.5

Farming, Fishing, and Forestry

6.0

Computer and Mathematical Sciences

4.5

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

  • Undocumented immigrants comprised 1.3 percent of the state’s workforce in 2014.

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

  • Immigrant-led households in the state paid $245.4 million in federal taxes and $112.3 million in state and local taxes in 2014.
  • Undocumented immigrants in Mississippi paid an estimated $22.7 million in state and local taxes in 2014. Their contribution would rise to $28 million if they could receive legal status.
  • DACA recipients in Mississippi paid an estimated $4.2 million in state and local taxes in 2016.

As consumers, immigrants add a billion dollars to Mississippi’s economy each year.

  • Mississippi residents in immigrant-led households had $983 million in spending power (after-tax income) in 2014.

Immigrant entrepreneurs in Mississippi generate hundreds of millions of dollars in annual business revenue.

  • 4,208 immigrant business owners accounted for 3.5 percent of all self-employed Mississippi residents in 2015 and generated $107.3 million in business income.
  • In 2015, immigrants accounted for 9.9 percent of business owners in the Memphis metropolitan area (which spans Mississippi, Arkansas, and Tennessee).

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