Immigrants in New York

October 4, 2017

New York is often considered one of the greatest cultural hubs in the country, having welcomed immigrants long before the days of Ellis Island. Immigrants now account for one-fifth of the state’s total population and make up a staggering 25 percent of its labor force. As workers, business owners, taxpayers, and neighbors, immigrants are an integral part of New York’s diverse and thriving communities and make extensive contributions that benefit all.

One in five New Yorkers is an immigrant, while one in six is a native-born U.S. citizen with at least one immigrant parent.

  • In 2015, more than 4.5 million immigrants (foreign-born individuals) comprised 22.9 percent of the state’s population.
  • New York was home to 2.3 million women, 2 million men, and 217,102 children who were immigrants.
  • The top countries of origin for immigrants were the Dominican Republic (11.2 percent of immigrants), China (8.7 percent), Jamaica (5.2 percent), Mexico (5.2 percent), and Ecuador (4.2 percent).
  • In 2016, 3.4 million people in New York (17.2 percent of the state’s population) were native-born Americans who had at least one immigrant parent.

More than half of all immigrants in New York are naturalized U.S. citizens.

  • 2.5 million immigrants (55.2 percent) had naturalized as of 2015, and 891,416 immigrants were eligible to become naturalized U.S. citizens in 2015.
  • Nearly three-quarters (73.9 percent) of immigrants reported speaking English “well” or “very well.”

Immigrants in New York are distributed across the educational spectrum.

  • About 3 in 10 adult immigrants had a college degree or more education in 2015, while one in four had less than a high school diploma. 

Education Level

Share (%) of All Immigrants

Share (%) of All Natives

College degree or more

30.2

37.0

Some college

18.3

27.0

High school diploma only

25.4

27.0

Less than a high-school diploma

26.2

9.0

Over half a million U.S. citizens in New York live with at least one family member who is undocumented.

  • 775,000 undocumented immigrants comprised 17 percent of the immigrant population and 3.9 percent of the total state population in 2014.
  • 1.2 million people in New York, including 410,525 born in the United States, lived with at least one undocumented family member between 2010 and 2014.
  • During the same period, 1 in 12 children in the state was a U.S. citizen living with at least one undocumented family member (351,146 children in total).

More than 30,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients live in New York.

  • As of 2016, 60 percent of DACA-eligible immigrants in New York, or 45,663 people, had applied for DACA.
  • An additional 21,000 residents of the state satisfied all but the educational requirements for DACA, and another 10,000 would be eligible as they grew older.

Immigrants make up more than a quarter of the labor force in New York and are integral to a range of industries.

  • 2.8 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

590,921

Accommodation and Food Services

320,089

Retail Trade

297,246

Construction

231,459

Other Services (except Public Administration)

221,118

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)

Other Services (except Public Administration)

38.2

Transportation and Warehousing

37.1

Accommodation and Food Services

35.8

Construction

35.3

Health Care and Social Assistance

31.7

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

  

Immigrants are a vital part of the New York workforce in a range of occupations.

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

Occupation Category

Number of Immigrant Workers

Office and Administrative Support

315,099

Sales and Related

280,553

Food Preparation and Serving Related

235,950

Transportation and Material Moving

232,353

Management

226,914

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)

Healthcare Support

49.1

Building and Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance

43.2

Construction and Extraction

37.8

Personal Care and Service

35.4

Transportation and Material Moving

34.7

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

 

  • Undocumented immigrants comprised 5.9 percent of the state’s workforce in 2014. 

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

  • Immigrant-led households in the state paid $26.5 billion in federal taxes and $15.9 billion in state and local taxes in 2014.
  • Undocumented immigrants in New York paid an estimated $1.1 billion in state and local taxes in 2014. Their contribution would increase to $1.3 billion if they could receive legal status.
  • DACA recipients in New York paid an estimated $140 million in state and local taxes in 2016.

As consumers, immigrants add a hundred billion dollars to New York’s economy.

  • New Yorkers in immigrant-led households had $103.3 billion in spending power (after-tax income) in 2014.

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

  • 347,573 immigrant business owners accounted for 33.8 percent of all self-employed New York residents in 2015 and generated $7.2 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.

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