New Americans in Alabama
The Political and Economic Power of Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians in the Yellowhammer State
Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians account for growing shares of the economy and population in Alabama. Immigrants (the foreign-born) make up 3.4% of the state’s population, and over one-third of them are naturalized U.S. citizens who are eligible to vote. Immigrants are not only important to the state’s economy as workers, but also account for billions of dollars in tax revenue and consumer purchasing power. Moreover, Latinos and Asians (both foreign-born and native-born) wield $6.5 billion in consumer purchasing power, and the businesses they own had sales and receipts of $3.6 billion and employed more than 25,000 people at last count. As the economy continues to grow, Alabama can ill-afford to alienate such a critical component of its labor force, tax base, and business community.
Immigrants and their children are growing shares of Alabama’s population and electorate.
- The foreign-born share of Alabama’s population rose from 1.1% in 1990, to 2.0% in 2000, to 3.4% in 2013, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Alabama was home to 162,226 immigrants in 2013, which is more than the total population of Alexandria, Virginia.
- 36.9% of immigrants (or 59,782 people) in Alabama were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2013—meaning that they are eligible to vote.
- Unauthorized immigrants comprised roughly 1.4% of the state’s population (or 65,000 people) in 2012, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.
- 1.2% (or 31,396) of registered voters in Alabama were “New Americans”—naturalized citizens or the U.S.-born children of immigrants who were raised during the current era of immigration from Latin America and Asia which began in 1965—according to an analysis of 2012 Census Bureau data by the American Immigration Council.
5% of Alabamans are Latino or Asian.
- The Latino share of Alabama’s population grew from 0.6% in 1990, to 1.7% in 2000, to 3.9% (or 189,934 people) in 2013. The Asian share of the population grew from 0.5% in 1990, to 0.7% in 2000, to 1.2% (or 58,624 people) in 2013, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
- In Alabama, 84.6% of children with immigrant parents were U.S. citizens in 2009, according to the Urban Institute.
- In 2009, 87.8% of children in Asian families in Alabama were U.S. citizens, as were 85.1% of children in Latino families.
Latino and Asian entrepreneurs and consumers add billions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs to Alabama’s economy.
- The 2014 purchasing power of Latinos in Alabama totaled $4 billion—an increase of 1,349% since 1990.Asian buying power totaled $2.5 billion—an increase of 756% since 1990, according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia.
- Immigration boosts housing values in communities. From 2000 to 2010, according to the Americas Society/Council of the Americas, the value added by immigration to the price of the average home was $1,304 in Jefferson County; $451 in Mobile County; and $791 in Madison County.
- Alabama’s 4,439 Latino-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $1 billion and employed 7,346 peoplein 2007, the last year for which data is available. The state’s 6,908 Asian-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $2.6 billion and employed 17,993 people in 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners.
- From 2006 to 2010, there were 7,968 new immigrant business owners in Alabama, and the new immigrant business owners had total net business income of $337 million, which is 3.4% of all net business income in the state, according to Robert Fairlie of the University of California, Santa Cruz.
- In 2010, 4.3% of all business owners in Alabama were foreign-born, according to the Fiscal Policy Institute.
- Immigrant workers in Alabama are 10% more likely than their U.S.-born counterparts to be small business owners, according to the Fiscal Policy Institute.
Immigrants are important to Alabama’s economy as workers and taxpayers.
- Immigrants comprised 4.4% of the state’s workforce in 2013 (or 98,499 workers), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
- Latinos in Alabama paid $368 million in federal taxes and $172 million in state/local taxes in 2013, according to the Partnership for a New American Economy. In particular, foreign-born Latinos paid $160.5 million in federal taxes and $86.6 million in state/local taxes in 2013.
- The federal tax contribution of Alabama’s Latino population included $264 million to Social Security and $61.8 million to Medicare in 2013. In particular, foreign-born Latinos contributed $127 million to Social Security and $29.7 million to Medicare in 2013.
Unauthorized immigrants are important to Alabama’s economy as workers and taxpayers.
- Unauthorized immigrants in Alabama paid $118.1 million in state and local taxes in 2010, including $91 million in sales taxes, $19.6 million in state income taxes, and $7.6 million in property taxes, according to data from the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy.
- Were unauthorized immigrants in Alabama to have legal status, they would pay $148.9 million in state and local taxes, including $96 million in sales taxes, $44.7 million in state income taxes, and $8.1 million in property taxes.
- Unauthorized immigrants comprised roughly 2% of the state’s workforce (or 45,000 workers) in 2012, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.
- If all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Alabama, the state would lose $2.6 billion in economic activity, $1.1 billion in gross state product, and approximately 17,819 jobs, even accounting for adequate market adjustment time, according to a report by the Perryman Group.
Immigrants contribute to Alabama’s economy as students.
- Alabama’s 7,451 foreign students contributed $182.5 million to the state’s economy in tuition, fees, and living expenses for the 2013-2014 academic year, according to NAFSA: Association of International Educators.
- Foreign students contribute to Alabama’s metropolitan areas. From 2008 to 2012, according to the Brookings Institution, 1,915 foreign students paid $37 million in tuition and $29 million in living costs in the Tuscaloosa metropolitan area. In the Mobile metro area, 1,774 foreign students paid $21 million in tuition and $12 million in living costs.
- Foreign students also contribute to innovation in Alabama. In 2009, “non-resident aliens” comprised 42.9% of master’s degrees and 48.1% of doctorate degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, according to the Partnership for a New American Economy.
Naturalized citizens excel educationally.
- In Alabama, 33.6% of foreign-born persons who were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2011 had a bachelor’s or higher degree, compared to 18.1% of noncitizens, according to data from the Migration Policy Institute. At the same time, only 19.7% of naturalized citizens lacked a high-school diploma, compared to 42.6% of noncitizens.
- The number of immigrants in Alabama with a college degree increased by 55.2% between 2000 and 2011.
- In Alabama, 80.6% of children with immigrant parents were considered “English proficient” as of 2009, according to data from the Urban Institute.
- The English proficiency rate among Asian children was 88.6%, while for Latino children it was 79%, as of 2009.