Immigrants in Mississippi

August 6, 2020

Mississippi is home to a growing community of immigrants, many of whom emigrated from Mexico. While a small share of Mississippi’s population was born in another country, foreign-born residents are an important part of the state and its labor force, especially in certain sectors. For example, 7 percent of employees in Mississippi’s life, physical, and social science occupations are immigrants. As neighbors, business owners, taxpayers, and workers, immigrants are an integral part of Mississippi’s diverse and thriving communities and make extensive contributions that benefit all.

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

  • In 2018, 70,860 immigrants (foreign-born individuals) comprised 2 percent of the population.
  • Mississippi was home to 31,319 women, 33,991 men, and 5,550 children who were immigrants.
  • The top countries of origin for immigrants were Mexico (23 percent of immigrants), Guatemala (10 percent), India (8 percent), the Philippines (4 percent), and Vietnam (4 percent).
  • In 2018, 55,305 people in Mississippi (2 percent of the state’s population) were native-born Americans who had at least one immigrant parent.

Nearly two out of five immigrants in Mississippi are naturalized U.S. citizens.

  • 26,595 immigrants (38 percent) had naturalized as of 2018, and 8,616 immigrants were eligible to become naturalized U.S. citizens in 2017.
  • Three-fourths (76 percent) of immigrants reported speaking English “well” or “very well.”

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

  • Nearly one-third (30 percent) of adult immigrants had a college degree or more education in 2018, while more than one-fourth (29 percent) had less than a high school diploma. 

Education Level

Share (%) of All Immigrants

Share (%) of All Natives

College degree or more

30

23

Some college

19

33

High school diploma only

22

30

Less than a high school diploma

29

14

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

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

  • 20,000 undocumented immigrants comprised 35 percent of the immigrant population and 1 percent of the total state population in 2016.
  • 26,954 people in Mississippi, including 11,239 U.S. citizens, lived with at least one undocumented family member between 2010 and 2014.
  • During the same period, about 1 percent of children in the state were U.S. citizens living with at least one undocumented family member (8,876 children in total).

Mississippi is home to more than a thousand Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients.

  • 1,310 active DACA recipients lived in Mississippi as of March 2020, while DACA has been granted to 1,607 people in total since 2012.
  • As of 2019, 41 percent of DACA-eligible immigrants in Mississippi had applied for DACA.
  • Fewer than 1,000 residents of the state would satisfy all but the educational requirements for DACA, and fewer than 1,000 would become eligible as they grew older.

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

  • 41,320 immigrant workers comprised 3 percent of the labor force in 2018. 
  • Immigrant workers were most numerous in the following industries:

Industry

Number of Immigrant Workers

Accommodation and Food Services

8,549

Manufacturing

6,039

Health Care and Social Assistance

4,952

Educational Services

4,528

Construction

4,227

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)

Accommodation and Food Services

7

Other Services (except Public Administration)

5

Administrative & Support; Waste Management; and Remediation Services

5

Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation

5

Construction

4

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 Mississippi workforce in a range of occupations.

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

Occupation Category

Number of Immigrant Workers

Food Preparation and Serving Related

6,744

Management

4,510

Building and Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance

4,343

Transportation and Material Moving

4,166

Production

3,729

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)

Life, Physical, and Social Science

7

Food Preparation and Serving Related

6

Building and Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance

6

Personal Care and Service

6

Management

4

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 1 percent of Mississippi’s workforce in 2016.

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

  • Immigrant-led households in the state paid $379.5 million in federal taxes and $171.1 million in state and local taxes in 2018.
  • Undocumented immigrants in Mississippi paid an estimated $29.4 million in federal taxes and $19.4 million in state and local taxes in 2018.
  • Mississippi DACA recipients and DACA-eligible individuals paid an estimated $3.8 million in state and local taxes in 2018.

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

  • Mississippi residents in immigrant-led households had $1.5 billion in spending power (after-tax income) in 2018.

Immigrant entrepreneurs in Mississippi generate nearly $200 million in business revenue.

  • 6,125 immigrant business owners accounted for 5 percent of all self-employed Mississippi residents in 2018 and generated $189.9 million in business income.

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