Immigrants in Pennsylvania

June 9, 2020

Pennsylvania is home to a increasing number of immigrants, many of whom hail from India and the Dominican Republic. About 1 in 14 residents of the state is an immigrant, while 1 in 10 Pennsylvania entrepreneurs is an immigrant. Much of Pennsylvania’s economy relies on the manufacturing industry, which benefits from the state’s growing immigrant population.

Several sectors benefit from immigrants' participation in the workforce; a fifth of Pennsylvanians working in the life, physical, and social sciences are immigrants, as are 11 percent of residents working in the food and accommodation industry. As neighbors, business owners, taxpayers, and workers, immigrants are an integral part of Pennsylvania’s diverse and thriving communities and make extensive contributions that benefit all.

Seven percent of Pennsylvania residents are immigrants, while 9 percent of residents are native-born U.S. citizens with at least one immigrant parent.

  • In 2018, 922,585 immigrants (foreign-born individuals) comprised 7 percent of the population.
  • Pennsylvania was home to 444,824 women, 407,315 men, and 70,446 children who were immigrants.
  • The top countries of origin for immigrants were India (10 percent of immigrants), Dominican Republic (9 percent), China (7 percent), Mexico (6 percent), and Vietnam (3 percent).
  • In 2018, 1.1 million people in Pennsylvania (9 percent of the state’s population) were native-born Americans who had at least one immigrant parent.

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

  • 496,501 immigrants (54 percent) had naturalized as of 2018, and 135,429 immigrants were eligible to become naturalized U.S. citizens in 2017.
  • Four in five (81 percent) immigrants reported speaking English “well” or “very well.”

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

  • Two-fifths (41 percent) of adult immigrants had a college degree or more education in 2018, while one-fifth (20 percent) had less than a high school diploma.

Education Level

Share (%) of All Immigrants

Share (%) of All Natives

College degree or more

41

31

Some college

18

25

High school diploma only

22

36

Less than a high school diploma

20

8

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

Nearly 85,000 U.S. citizens in Pennsylvania live with at least one family member who is undocumented.

  • 170,000 undocumented immigrants comprised 19 percent of the immigrant population and 1 percent of the total state population in 2016.
  • 194,647 people in Pennsylvania, including 84,837 U.S. citizens, lived with at least one undocumented family member between 2010 and 2014.
  • During the same period, about 2 percent of children in the state were U.S. citizens living with at least one undocumented family member (56,141 children in total).

Pennsylvania is home to almost 5,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients.

  • 4,560 active DACA recipients lived in Pennsylvania as of 2019, while DACA has been granted to 17,412 people in total since 2012.
  • As of 2019, 32 percent of DACA-eligible immigrants in Pennsylvania had applied for DACA.
  • An additional 3,000 residents of the state would satisfy all but the educational requirements for DACA, and fewer than 1,000 would become eligible as they grew older.

Immigrants are vital members of Pennsylvania's labor force, accounting for 9 percent of all workers across industries.

  • 590,846 immigrant workers comprised 9 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

108,652

Manufacturing

87,486

Retail Trade

63,855

Accommodation and Food Services

59,336

Educational Services

56,680

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)

Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, and Hunting

12

Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services

11

Accommodation and Food Services

11

Other Services (except Public Administration)

10

Administrative & Support; Waste Management; and Remediation Services

10

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 Pennsylvania workforce in a range of occupations.

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

Occupation Category

Number of Immigrant Workers

Transportation and Material Moving

65,511

Office and Administrative Support

56,788

Production

53,494

Management

51,659

Sales and Related

47,705

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)

Life, Physical, and Social Science

20

Farming, Fishing, and Forestry

18

Computer and Mathematical

17

Building and Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance

13

Production

11

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 2 percent of Pennsylvania’s workforce in 2016.

Immigrants in Pennsylvania have contributed billions of dollars in taxes.

  • Immigrant-led households in the state paid $6.9 billion in federal taxes and $3.3 billion in state and local taxes in 2018.
  • Undocumented immigrants in Pennsylvania paid an estimated $418.1 million in federal taxes and $238.3 million in state and local taxes in 2018.
  • Pennsylvania DACA recipients and DACA-eligible individuals paid an estimated $17.4 million in state and local taxes in 2018.

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

  • Pennsylvania residents in immigrant-led households had $24.6 billion in spending power (after-tax income) in 2018.

Immigrant entrepreneurs in Pennsylvania generate more than $1 billion in business revenue.

  • 55,763 immigrant business owners accounted for 10 percent of all self-employed Pennsylvania residents in 2018 and generated $1.2 billion in business income.
  • In 2018, immigrants accounted for 14 percent of business owners in the Philadelphia/Camden/Wilmington metropolitan area (which extends from Pennsylvania into new Jersey and Delaware) and 10 percent in the Pittsburgh metro area.

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