Immigrants in North Dakota

August 6, 2020

North Dakota has a small but growing community of immigrants, with many hailing from the Philippines. Roughly 5 percent of the state population was born in another country, while another 5 percent of residents are native-born U.S. citizens with at least one immigrant parent. The majority of immigrants speak English well and are naturalized citizens or eligible for naturalization.

Foreign-born residents are increasingly vital to North Dakota’s labor force, with immigrants accounting for 13 percent of the state’s production employees and 11 percent of residents working in the manufacturing industry. As neighbors, business owners, taxpayers, and workers, immigrants are an integral part of North Dakota’s diverse and thriving communities and make extensive contributions that benefit all.

One in 20 North Dakota residents is an immigrant, while another 1 in 20 residents is a native-born U.S. citizen with at least one immigrant parent.

  • In 2018, 35,824 immigrants (foreign-born individuals) comprised 5 percent of the population.
  • North Dakota was home to 16,536 women, 16,204 men, and 3,084 children who were immigrants.
  • The top countries of origin for immigrants were the Philippines (8 percent of immigrants), Bhutan (8 percent), Nepal (8 percent), Canada (6 percent), and Liberia (6 percent).
  • In 2018, 38,312 people in North Dakota (5 percent of the state’s population) were native-born Americans who had at least one immigrant parent.

Nearly half of all immigrants in North Dakota are naturalized U.S. citizens.

  • 15,942 immigrants (45 percent) had naturalized as of 2018, and 6,401 immigrants were eligible to become naturalized U.S. citizens in 2017.
  • Nine in ten (91 percent) immigrants reported speaking English “well” or “very well.”

Immigrants in North Dakota tend to be college educated.

  • More than one-third (35 percent) of adult immigrants had a college degree or more education in 2018, while one-fifth (21 percent) had less than a high school diploma.

Education Level

Share (%) of All Immigrants

Share (%) of All Natives

College degree or more

35

29

Some college

24

38

High school diploma only

20

26

Less than a high school diploma

21

7

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

Over a thousand U.S. citizens in North Dakota live with at least one family member who is undocumented.

  • 5,000 undocumented immigrants comprised 23 percent of the immigrant population and 1 percent of the total state population in 2016.
  • 4,050 people in North Dakota, including 1,532 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 (961 children in total).

North Dakota is home to over a hundred Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients.

  • 120 active DACA recipients lived in North Dakota as of March 2020, while DACA has been granted to 72 people in total since 2012.

Immigrants are an important part of the state’s labor force across industries.

  • 25,558 immigrant workers comprised 6 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

6,245

Educational Services

4,690

Manufacturing

3,501

Retail Trade

2,156

Wholesale Trade

2,036

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)

Wholesale Trade

13

Manufacturing

11

Educational Services

10

Transportation and Warehousing

9

Health Care and Social Assistance

8

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 North Dakota workforce in a range of occupations.

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

Occupation Category

Number of Immigrant Workers

Production

3,332

Educational Instruction and Library

2,969

Transportation and Material Moving

2,729

Sales and Related

2,011

Healthcare Practitioners and Technical

2,008

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

13

Healthcare Support

13

Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media

12

Educational Instruction and Library

10

Building and Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance

10

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 North Dakota’s workforce in 2016.

Immigrants in North Dakota have contributed over $200 million in taxes.

As consumers, immigrants add hundreds of millions of dollars to North Dakota’s economy.

  • North Dakota residents in immigrant-led households had $736.9 million in spending power (after-tax income) in 2018.

Immigrant entrepreneurs in North Dakota generate tens of millions of dollars in business revenue.

  • 1,506 immigrant business owners accounted for 3 percent of all self-employed North Dakota residents in 2018 and generated $66.8 million in business income.

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