Immigrants in Utah

July 6, 2020

Utah has a sizable community of immigrants, many of whom emigrated from Mexico. Roughly 1 in 11 Utahans was born in another country, and a similar proportion of residents are native-born Americans with at least one immigrant parent. The majority of immigrants speak English well and are naturalized citizens or eligible for naturalization.

Across sectors, immigrants are an important part of the state's labor force and support Utah’s economy. Immigrants represent nearly one-fifth of residents working in the construction industry, while Utah’s hotel and food services industry relies on immigrants for 16 percent of its employees. As neighbors, business owners, taxpayers, and workers, immigrants are an integral part of Utah’s diverse and thriving communities and make extensive contributions that benefit all.

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

  • In 2018, 271,222 immigrants (foreign-born individuals) comprised 9 percent of the population.
  • Utah was home to 125,144 women, 124,062 men, and 22,016 children who were immigrants.
  • The top countries of origin for immigrants were Mexico (35 percent of immigrants), India (4 percent), Venezuela (4 percent), Peru (4 percent), and Canada (3 percent).
  • In 2018, 269,650 people in Utah (9 percent of the state’s population) were native-born Americans who had at least one immigrant parent.

Two out of five immigrants in Utah are naturalized U.S. citizens.

  • 111,797 immigrants (41 percent) had naturalized as of 2018, and 44,401 immigrants were eligible to become naturalized U.S. citizens in 2017.
  • Nearly four in five (79 percent) immigrants reported speaking English “well” or “very well.”

Immigrants in Utah are distributed across the educational spectrum.

  • More than one-fourth (27 percent) of adult immigrants had a college degree or more education in 2018, while one-fourth (25 percent) had less than a high school diploma.

Education Level

Share (%) of All Immigrants

Share (%) of All Natives

College degree or more

27

36

Some college

22

37

High school diploma only

26

22

Less than a high school diploma

25

5

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

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

  • 95,000 undocumented immigrants comprised 38 percent of the immigrant population and 3 percent of the total state population in 2016.
  • 140,517 people in Utah, including 71,207 U.S. citizens, lived with at least one undocumented family member between 2010 and 2014.
  • During the same period, about 6 percent of children in the state were U.S. citizens living with at least one undocumented family member (55,516 children in total).

Utah is home to thousands of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients.

  • 8,680 active DACA recipients lived in Utah as of 2019, while DACA has been granted to 32,488 people in total since 2012.
  • As of 2019, 74 percent of DACA-eligible immigrants in Utah 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.

One in nine Utah workers is an immigrant, making up a vital part of the state’s labor force.

  • 175,101 immigrant workers comprised 11 percent of the labor force in 2018.
  • Immigrant workers were most numerous in the following industries:

Industry

Number of Immigrant Workers

Manufacturing

31,148

Construction

24,707

Accommodation and Food Services

21,605

Health Care and Social Assistance

19,173

Retail Trade

16,735

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)

Construction

19

Manufacturing

18

Accommodation and Food Services

16

Administrative & Support; Waste Management; and Remediation Services

15

Wholesale Trade

14

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 Utah workforce in a range of occupations.

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

Occupation Category

Number of Immigrant Workers

Construction and Extraction

23,667

Production

22,430

Office and Administrative Support

18,888

Transportation and Material Moving

18,840

Building and Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance

17,733

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)

Building and Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance

25

Construction and Extraction

22

Farming, Fishing, and Forestry

21

Production

20

Food Preparation and Serving Related

16

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 5 percent of Utah’s workforce in 2016.

Immigrants in Utah have contributed nearly $2 billion in taxes.

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

  • Utah residents in immigrant-led households had $5.7 billion in spending power (after-tax income) in 2018.

Immigrant entrepreneurs in Utah generate hundreds of millions of dollars in business revenue.

  • 16,852 immigrant business owners accounted for 11 percent of all self-employed Utah residents in 2018 and generated $381.9 million in business income.

Most Read

  • Publications
  • Blog Posts
  • Past:
  • Trending