Immigrants in Utah

October 13, 2017

Utah has a sizable immigrant community, much of which emigrated from Mexico. Over 8 percent of Utah’s population was born in another country, and a similar proportion of residents are native-born Americans with at least one immigrant parent. Across sectors, foreign-born residents are a significant share of the labor force and support the state’s economy. For example, immigrants represent 16 percent of residents working in the hotel and food services industry, while Utah’s construction industry relies on immigrants for 20 percent of its employees. As workers, business owners, taxpayers, and neighbors, immigrants are an integral part of Utah’s diverse and thriving communities and make extensive contributions that benefit all.

One in 12 Utah residents is an immigrant, and another 1 in 12 residents is a native-born U.S. citizen with at least one immigrant parent.

  • In 2015, 244,467 immigrants (foreign-born individuals) comprised 8.2 percent of the state’s population.
  • Utah was home to 119,563 women, 110,113 men, and 14,791 children who were immigrants.
  • The top countries of origin for immigrants were Mexico (43.2 percent of immigrants), El Salvador (4.1 percent), Canada (3.5 percent), Vietnam (2.9 percent), and the Philippines (2.9 percent).
  • In 2016, 255,740 people in Utah (8.5 percent of the state’s population) were native-born Americans who had at least one immigrant parent.

Nearly two in five immigrants in Utah are naturalized U.S. citizens.

  • 95,513 immigrants (39.1 percent) had naturalized as of 2015, and 41,322 immigrants were eligible to become naturalized U.S. citizens in 2015.
  • More than three in four immigrants (77.2 percent) reported speaking English “well” or “very well.”

Immigrants in Utah are found across the educational spectrum.

  • More than a fifth of adult immigrants had a college degree or more education in 2015, while almost 3 in 10 had less than a high school diploma. 

Education Level

Share (%) of All Immigrants

Share (%) of All Natives

College degree or more

22.8

33.1

Some college

19.6

37.6

High school diploma only

27.7

23.7

Less than a high-school diploma

29.8

5.6

Over 70,000 U.S. citizens in Utah live with at least one family member who is undocumented.

  • 100,000 undocumented immigrants comprised 39 percent of the immigrant population and 3.5 percent of the total state population in 2014.
  • 140,517 people in Utah, including 64,128 born in the United States, lived with at least one undocumented family member between 2010 and 2014.
  • During the same period, 6 percent of children in the state were U.S. citizens living with at least one undocumented family member (55,516 children in total).

Nearly 9,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients live in Utah.

  • As of 2016, 92 percent of DACA-eligible immigrants in Utah, or 10,512 people, had applied for DACA.
  • An additional 3,000 residents of the state satisfied all but the educational requirements for DACA, and another 3,000 would be additionally eligible as they grew older.

Immigrants are vital to Utah’s labor force across industries, accounting for more than one in nine workers.

  • 166,872 immigrant workers comprised 11.3 percent of the labor force in 2015. 
  • Immigrant workers were most numerous in the following industries:

Industry

Number of Immigrant Workers

Manufacturing

31,771

Construction

23,174

Accommodation and Food Services

21,255

Retail Trade

19,180

Administration and Support and Waste Management and Remediation Services

16,969

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)

Construction

20.0

Administrative & Support; Waste Management; and Remediation Services

18.6

Manufacturing

17.9

Accommodation and Food Services

16.0

Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing & Hunting

15.4

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

Immigrants are an integral part of the Utah workforce in a range of occupations.

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

Occupation Category

Number of Immigrant Workers

Production

25,889

Construction and Extraction

20,058

Office and Administrative Support

19,041

Building and Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance

18,156

Sales and Related

16,188

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)

Building and Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance

27.4

Farming, Fishing, and Forestry

25.9

Construction and Extraction

22.2

Production

21.8

Food Preparation and Serving Related

14.7

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

  • Undocumented immigrants comprised 5.4 percent of the state’s workforce in 2014.

Immigrants in Utah contribute over a billion dollars in yearly taxes.

  • Immigrant-led households in the state paid $784.8 million in federal taxes and $410.3 million in state and local taxes in 2014.
  • Undocumented immigrants in Utah paid an estimated $69.8 million in state and local taxes in 2014. Their contribution would rise to $91.3 million if they could receive legal status.
  • DACA recipients in Utah paid an estimated $18.8 million in state and local taxes in 2016.

As consumers, immigrants add billions of dollars to Utah’s economy every year.

  • Utah residents in immigrant-led households had $4 billion in spending power (after-tax income) in 2014.

Immigrant entrepreneurs represent more than one in nine business owners in Utah, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in annual business revenue.

  • 15,793 immigrant business owners accounted for 11.6 percent of all self-employed Utah residents in 2015 and generated $453.1 million in business income.
  • In 2015, immigrants accounted for 9.9 percent of business owners in the Salt Lake City metropolitan area.

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