Immigrants in New Jersey

June 9, 2020

New Jersey has a large community of immigrants, many of whom hail from India. Nearly one-quarter of the state’s population was born in another country, while one in six residents is a native-born U.S. citizen with at least one immigrant parent. Foreign-born residents are vital to New Jersey’s workforce across sectors. For example, immigrants account for over two-fifths of all healthcare support workers, nearly half of all workers in computer and math sciences, and half of production employees. As neighbors, business owners, taxpayers, and workers, immigrants are an integral part of New Jersey’s diverse and thriving communities and make extensive contributions that benefit all.

Nearly one in four New Jersey residents is an immigrant, while one in six residents is a native-born U.S. citizen with at least one immigrant parent.

  • In 2018, 2 million immigrants (foreign-born individuals) comprised 23 percent of the population.
  • New Jersey was home to 991,196 women, 926,641 men, and 115,455 children who were immigrants.
  • The top countries of origin for immigrants were India (13 percent of immigrants), Dominican Republic (10 percent), Mexico (5 percent), Ecuador (4 percent), and the Philippines (4 percent).
  • In 2018, 1.7 million people in New Jersey (18 percent of the state’s population) were native-born Americans who had at least one immigrant parent.

Over three-quarters of all immigrants in New Jersey are naturalized U.S. citizens.

  • 1.2 million immigrants (59 percent) had naturalized as of 2018, and 321,266 immigrants were eligible to become naturalized U.S. citizens in 2017.
  • Nearly three in five (78 percent) immigrants reported speaking English “well” or “very well.”

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

  • Two in five (40 percent) adult immigrants had a college degree or more education in 2018, while just under one in five (18 percent) had less than a high school diploma. 

Education Level

Share (%) of All Immigrants

Share (%) of All Natives

College degree or more

40

41

Some college

18

25

High school diploma only

24

27

Less than a high school diploma

18

6

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

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

  • 475,000 undocumented immigrants comprised 22 percent of the immigrant population and 5 percent of the total state population in 2016.
  • 604,615 people in New Jersey, including 262,527 U.S. citizens, lived with at least one undocumented family member between 2010 and 2014.
  • During the same period, about 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).

New Jersey is home to thousands of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients.

  • 16,620 active DACA recipients lived in New Jersey as of 2019, while DACA has been granted to 66,794 million people in total since 2012.
  • As of 2019, 32 percent of DACA-eligible immigrants in New Jersey had applied for DACA.
  • An additional 11,000 residents of the state would satisfy all but the educational requirements for DACA, and fewer than 2,000 would become eligible as they grew older.

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

  • 1.4 million immigrant workers comprised 29 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

212,892

Manufacturing

154,555

Retail Trade

148,613

Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services

141,012

Construction

108,195

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

38

Manufacturing

37

Construction

34

Transportation and Warehousing

34

Other Services (except Public Administration)

33

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 New Jersey workforce in a range of occupations.

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

Occupation Category

Number of Immigrant Workers

Management

143,043

Transportation and Material Moving

139,878

Sales and Related

130,431

Office and Administrative Support

124,765

Production

105,201

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)

Production

49

Building and Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance

48

Computer and Mathematical

45

Healthcare Support

43

Farming, Fishing, and Forestry

41

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 8 percent of New Jersey’s workforce in 2016.

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

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

  • New Jersey residents in immigrant-led households had $65.8 billion in spending power (after-tax income) in 2018.

Immigrant entrepreneurs in New Jersey generate billions of dollars in business revenue.

  • 136,186 immigrant business owners accounted for 33 percent of all self-employed New Jersey residents in 2018 and generated $3.8 billion in business income.
  • In 2018, immigrants accounted for 31 percent of business owners in the New York/Northern New Jersey/Long Island metropolitan area (which spans New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania) and 14 percent in the Philadelphia/Camden/Wilmington metro area (which extends from Pennsylvania into New Jersey and Delaware).

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