Immigrants in Missouri

October 13, 2017

Missouri has a small but growing immigrant community, much of which hails from Mexico. Four percent of the state’s residents were born in another country, while another 4 percent of residents are native-born U.S. citizens with at least one immigrant parent. The state benefits from immigrants’ active participate in the economy—from working in Missouri’s service industries to  accounting for nearly 15 percent of residents working in the life, physical, and social sciences. As workers, business owners, taxpayers, and neighbors, immigrants are an integral part of Missouri’s diverse and thriving communities and make extensive contributions that benefit all.

Four percent of Missouri residents are immigrants, and another 4 percent are native-born U.S. citizens with at least one immigrant parent.

  • In 2015, 242,761 immigrants (foreign-born individuals) comprised 4 percent of the state’s population.
  • Missouri was home to 111,791 women, 109,809 men, and 21,161 children who were immigrants.
  • The top countries of origin for immigrants were Mexico (18.6 percent of immigrants), India (8.9 percent), China (6.8 percent), Vietnam (5.3 percent), and the Philippines (4.2 percent).
  • In 2016, 243,002 people in Missouri (4.1 percent of the state’s population) were native-born Americans who had at least one immigrant parent.

More than two-fifths of immigrants in Missouri are naturalized U.S. citizens.

  • 107,781 immigrants (44.4 percent) had naturalized as of 2015, and 43,157 immigrants were eligible to become naturalized U.S. citizens in 2015.
  • Nearly four in five immigrants (79.6 percent) reported speaking English “well” or “very well.”

Many immigrants in Missouri have pursued education at or above the college level.

  • Nearly two in five adult immigrants had a college degree or more education in 2015, while almost a quarter had less than a high school diploma.  

Education Level

Share (%) of All Immigrants

Share (%) of All Natives

College degree or more

38.0

27.3

Some college

18.1

30.7

High school diploma only

19.9

31.5

Less than a high-school diploma

24.0

10.4

Nearly 35,000 U.S. citizens in Missouri live with at least one family member who is undocumented.

  • 55,000 undocumented immigrants comprised 24 percent of the immigrant population and 0.9 percent of the total state population in 2014.
  • 74,551 people in Missouri, including 30,975 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 (26,614 children in total).

More than 3,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients live in Missouri.

  • As of 2016, 63 percent of DACA-eligible immigrants in Missouri, or 3,883 people, had applied for DACA.
  • An additional 2,000 residents of the state satisfied all but the educational requirements for DACA, and another 2,000 would be additionally eligible as they grew older.

Immigrants are important members of the Missouri labor force and across industries.

  • 141,797 immigrant workers comprised 4.7 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

24,454

Manufacturing

19,181

Educational Services

18,274

Accommodation and Food Services

16,733

Retail Trade

14,291

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

10.5

Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services

6.1

Accommodation and Food Services

6.0

Other Services (except Public Administration)

5.9

Educational Services

5.7

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

Immigrants are an integral part of the Missouri workforce across occupations.

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

Occupation Category

Number of Immigrant Workers

Production

14,116

Food Preparation and Serving Related

13,868

Healthcare Practitioners, Technologists, and Technicians

13,010

Construction and Extraction

12,400

Sales and Related

11,894

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

14.8

Computer and Mathematical Sciences

13.1

Military Specific

8.6

Building and Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance

7.3

Healthcare Practitioners, Technologists, and Technicians

6.5

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 Missouri have contributed billions of dollars in taxes.

  • Immigrant-led households in the state paid $1.3 billion in federal taxes and $517.8 million in state and local taxes in 2014.
  • Undocumented immigrants in Missouri paid an estimated $48.9 million in state and local taxes in 2014. Their contribution would rise to $63.4 million if they could receive legal status.
  • DACA recipients in Missouri paid an estimated $8.4 million in state and local taxes in 2016.

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

  • Missouri residents in immigrant-led households had $4.8 billion in spending power (after-tax income) in 2014.

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

  • 14,096 immigrant business owners accounted for 4.8 percent of all self-employed Missouri residents in 2015 and generated $340.4 million in business income.
  • In 2015, immigrants accounted for 14.5 percent of business owners in Kansas City (which spans Kansas and Missouri) and 6.5 percent of business owners in the St. Louis metropolitan area (which extends from Missouri into Illinois).

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