Immigrants in New Jersey

October 13, 2017

New Jersey has a large immigrant community, much of which hails from India. More than 22 percent of the state’s population was born in another country, while nearly 1 in 6 residents is a native-born U.S. citizen with at least one immigrant parent. Foreign-born residents are vital to New Jersey’s workforce, with immigrants accounting for nearly half of all workers in the computer and math sciences and roughly 44 percent of production employees. As workers, business owners, taxpayers, and neighbors, immigrants are an integral part of New Jersey’s diverse and thriving communities and make extensive contributions that benefit all.

More than one in five New Jersey residents is an immigrant, while nearly one in six is a native-born U.S. citizen with at least one immigrant parent.

  • In 2015, 2 million immigrants (foreign-born individuals) comprised 22.1 percent of the state’s population.
  • New Jersey was home to 958,560 women, 910,116 men, and 108,649 children who were immigrants.
  • The top countries of origin for immigrants were India (12.5 percent of immigrants), the Dominican Republic (8.4 percent), Mexico (6 percent), the Philippines (4.5 percent), and Korea (4 percent).
  • In 2016, 1.5 million people in New Jersey (16.5 percent of the state’s population) were native-born Americans who had at least one immigrant parent.

Over half of all immigrants in New Jersey are naturalized U.S. citizens.

  • 1.1 million immigrants (55.2 percent) had naturalized as of 2015, and 315,478 immigrants were eligible to become naturalized U.S. citizens in 2015.
  • More than three-quarters of immigrants (76.4 percent) reported speaking English “well” or “very well.”

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

  • More than a third of adult immigrants had a college degree or more education in 2015, while one in five had less than a high school diploma.

Education Level

Share (%) of All Immigrants

Share (%) of All Natives

College degree or more

37.8

37.5

Some college

17.8

25.0

High school diploma only

24.5

30.1

Less than a high-school diploma

19.9

7.4

More than a half-million U.S. citizens in New Jersey live with at least one family member who is undocumented.

  • 500,000 undocumented immigrants comprised 24 percent of the immigrant population and 5.4 percent of the total state population in 2014.
  • 604,615 people in New Jersey, including 204,946 born in the United States, lived with at least one undocumented family member between 2010 and 2014.
  • During the same period, 1 in 11 children in the state was a U.S. citizen living with at least one undocumented family member (180,580 children in total).

More than 17,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients live in New Jersey.

  • As of 2016, 49 percent of DACA-eligible immigrants in New Jersey, or 25,650 people, had applied for DACA.
  • An additional 11,000 residents of the state satisfied all but the educational requirements for DACA, and another 7,000 would be eligible as they grew older.

Immigrants are vital members of New Jersey’s labor force, accounting for a third of workers in multiple industries.

  • 1.3 million immigrant workers comprised 27.8 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

200,705

Manufacturing

145,192

Retail Trade

140,461

Accommodation and Food Services

130,889

Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services

125,281

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)

Accommodation and Food Services

35.9

Other Services (except Public Administration)

35.3

Transportation and Warehousing

34.9

Manufacturing

34.7

Administrative & Support; Waste Management; and Remediation Services

32.4

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 New Jersey workforce in a range of occupations.

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

Occupation Category

Number of Immigrant Workers

Management

136,449

Office and Administrative Support

132,520

Sales and Related

129,551

Transportation and Material Moving

124,910

Food Preparation and Serving Related

97,536

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)

Computer and Mathematical Sciences

48.6

Farming, Fishing, and Forestry

44.9

Building and Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance

44.8

Production

43.9

Healthcare Support

36.5

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

  • Undocumented immigrants comprised 7.9 percent of the state’s workforce in 2014.

Immigrants in New Jersey have contributed billions of dollars in taxes.

  • Immigrant-led households in the state paid $13.1 billion in federal taxes and $6.5 billion in state and local taxes in 2014.
  • Undocumented immigrants in New Jersey paid an estimated $587.4 million in state and local taxes in 2014. Their contribution would rise to $661.1 million if they could receive legal status.
  • DACA recipients in New Jersey paid an estimated $66 million in state and local taxes in 2016.

As consumers, immigrants add tens of billions of dollars to New Jersey’s economy.

  • New Jersey residents in immigrant-led households had $54.6 billion in spending power (after-tax income) in 2014.

Immigrants account for a third of all self-employed business owners in New Jersey.

  • 139,240 immigrant business owners accounted for 32.9 percent of all self-employed New Jersey residents in 2015 and generated $3.3 billion in business income.
  • In 2015, immigrants accounted for 35.2 percent of business owners in the New York/Northern New Jersey/Long Island metropolitan area (which spans New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania) and 13.1 percent in the Philadelphia/Camden/Wilmington metro area (which extends from Pennsylvania into New Jersey and Delaware).

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