Immigrants in Pennsylvania

October 4, 2017

Much of Pennsylvania’s economy relies on the manufacturing industry, which benefits from the state’s growing immigrant population. Immigrants now make up over 6 percent of all residents and also account for a large share of the state’s entrepreneurs. As workers, business owners, taxpayers, and neighbors, immigrants are an integral part of Pennsylvania’s diverse and thriving communities and make extensive contributions that benefit all.

Immigrants make up slightly more than 6 percent of Pennsylvania residents, while another 8 percent of residents are native-born U.S. citizens who have at least one immigrant parent.

  • In 2015, 837,159 immigrants (foreign-born individuals) comprised 6.5 percent of the state’s population.
  • Pennsylvania was home to 402,706 women, 371,636 men, and 62,817 children who were immigrants.
  • The top countries of origin for immigrants were India (10.7 percent of immigrants), China (8.9 percent), Mexico (6.2 percent), Dominican Republic (6 percent), and Vietnam (4.6 percent).
  • In 2016, 911,353 people in Pennsylvania (8.2 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.

  • 440,198 immigrants (52.6 percent) had naturalized as of 2015, and 142,978 immigrants were eligible to become naturalized U.S. citizens in 2015.
  • More than three-quarters of immigrants (79.1 percent) reported speaking English “well” or “very well.”

Immigrants in Pennsylvania are distributed across the educational spectrum.

  • Nearly two in five adult immigrants had a college degree or more education in 2015, while about one in five had less than a high school diploma. 

Education Level

Share (%) of All Immigrants

Share (%) of All Natives

College degree or more

38.4

28.9

Some college

18.0

24.9

High school diploma only

23.0

36.8

Less than a high-school diploma

20.5

9.4

Tens of thousands of U.S. citizens in Pennsylvania live with at least one family member who is undocumented.

  • 180,000 undocumented immigrants comprised 22 percent of the immigrant population and 1.4 percent of the total state population in 2014.
  • 194,647 people in Pennsylvania, including 66,576 born in the United States, lived with at least one undocumented family member between 2010 and 2014.
  • During the same period, 2 percent of children in the state were U.S. citizens living with at least one undocumented family member (56,141 children in total).

Nearly 5,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients live in Pennsylvania.

  • As of 2016, 46 percent of DACA-eligible immigrants in Pennsylvania, or 7,144 people, had applied for DACA.
  • An additional 3,000 residents of the state satisfied all but the educational requirements for DACA, and another 2,000 would be eligible as they grew older.

Immigrants are an integral part of the Pennsylvania workforce in a range of industries.

  • 495,780 immigrant workers comprised 7.6 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

90,302

Manufacturing

80,217

Accommodation and Food Services

58,061

Retail Trade

52,877

Educational Services

47,001

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)

Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting

12.7

Administrative & Support; Waste Management; and Remediation Services

10.1

Accommodation and Food Services

9.9

Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services

9.7

Management of Companies and Enterprises

9.4

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 Pennsylvania labor force in a range of occupations.

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

Occupation Category

Number of Immigrant Workers

Management

53,340

Office and Administrative Support

48,012

Production

46,436

Sales and Related

42,898

Healthcare Practitioners, Technologists, and Technicians

42,501

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)

Life, Physical, and Social Sciences

18.6

Farming, Fishing, and Forestry

17.7

Computer and Mathematical Sciences

15.2

Building and Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance

10.8

Production

9.3

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

  • Undocumented immigrants comprised 2 percent of the state’s workforce in 2014.

 

Immigrants in Pennsylvania have contributed billions of dollars in taxes.

  • Immigrant-led households in the state paid $5 billion in federal taxes and $2.1 billion in state and local taxes in 2014.
  • Undocumented immigrants in Pennsylvania paid an estimated $134.9 million in state and local taxes in 2014. Their contribution would rise to $186.2 million if they could receive legal status.
  • DACA recipients in Pennsylvania paid an estimated $20.8 million in state and local taxes in 2016.

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

  • Pennsylvania residents in immigrant-led households had $18.6 billion in spending power (after-tax income) in 2014.

Immigrant entrepreneurs in Pennsylvania generate billions of dollars in business revenue.

  • 51,291 immigrant business owners accounted for 9.3 percent of all self-employed Pennsylvania residents in 2015 and generated $1.2 billion in business income.
  • In 2015, immigrants accounted for 13.7 percent of business owners in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area and 13.1 percent in the Philadelphia metro area.

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