New Americans in Colorado
The Political and Economic Power of Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians in the Centennial State
Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians account for large and growing shares of the economy and electorate in the swing state of Colorado. Nearly 1 in 10 Coloradans is an immigrant (foreign-born), and more than one-third of immigrants in Colorado are naturalized U.S. citizens who are eligible to vote. “New Americans”—immigrants and the children of immigrants—account for 7% of all registered voters in the state. Moreover, Latinos and Asians (both foreign-born and native-born) wield $30.6 billion in consumer purchasing power. At last count, businesses owned by Latinos and Asians had sales and receipts of $10 billion and employed more than 65,000 people. Immigrant, Latino, and Asian workers, consumers, and entrepreneurs are integral to Colorado’s economy and tax base—and they are an electoral force with which every politician must reckon.
Immigrants and their children are growing shares of Colorado’s population and electorate.
- The foreign-born share of Colorado’s population rose from 4.3% in 1990, to 8.6% in 2000, to 9.5% in 2013, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Colorado was home to 500,634 immigrants in 2013, which is more than the total population of Sacramento, California.
- 39.5% of immigrants (or 197,600 people) in Colorado were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2013—meaning that they are eligible to vote.
- Unauthorized immigrants comprised 3.5% of the state’s population (or 180,000 people) in 2012, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.
- 7% (or 185,346) of registered voters in Colorado 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.
1 in 5 Coloradans are Latino—and they vote.
- The Latino share of Colorado’s population grew from 12.9% in 1990, to 17.1% in 2000, to 21% (or 1.1 million people) in 2013. The Asian share of the population grew from 1.7% in 1990, to 2.2% in 2000, to 2.9% (or 150,852 people) in 2013, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
- Latinos comprised 10.4% (or 259,000) of Colorado voters in the 2012 elections, and Asians 1.2% (or 31,000), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
- In Colorado, 87% of children with immigrant parents were U.S. citizens in 2009, according to data from the Urban Institute.
- In 2009, 90.5% of children in Asian families in Colorado were U.S. citizens, as were 92.6% of children in Latino families.
Immigrant, Latino, and Asian entrepreneurs and consumers add tens of billions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs to Colorado’s economy.
- The 2014 purchasing power of Colorado’s Latinos totaled $23.8 billion—an increase of 505% since 1990. Asian buying power totaled $6.8 billion—an increase of 799% 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 $3,361 in Arapahoe County, $2,172 in Adams County, and $1,146 in El Paso County.
- Colorado’s 33,762 Latino-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $6.6 billion and employed 37,629 people in 2007, the last year for which data is available. The state’s 14,482 Asian-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $3.4 billion and employed 27,393 people in 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners.
- From 2006 to 2010, there were 27,645 new immigrant business owners in Colorado, and new immigrant business owners had total net business income of $1.2 billion (which is 7.3 percent of all net business income in the state), according to Robert Fairlie of the University of California, Santa Cruz.
- In 2010, 9.2 percent of all business owners in Colorado were foreign-born, according to the Fiscal Policy Institute.
- In the Denver-Aurora-Broomfield metropolitan area, 12% of business owners were foreign-born in 2013, according to the Fiscal Policy Institute and Americans Society/Council of the Americas. Furthermore, 22.1% of “Main Street” business owners—owners of businesses in the retail, accommodation and food services, and neighborhood services sectors—in the Denver metro area were foreign-born in 2013.
Immigrants are integral to Colorado’s economy as workers and taxpayers.
- Immigrants comprised 11.4% of the state’s workforce in 2013 (or 317,888 workers), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
- Immigrants accounted for 10% of total economic output in the Denver metropolitan area as of 2007, according to a study by the Fiscal Policy Institute.
- Latinos in Colorado paid $2.4 billion in federal taxes and $1.3 billion in state/local taxes in 2013, according to the Partnership for a New American Economy. In particular, foreign-born Latinos paid $681 million in federal taxes and $383 million in state/local taxes in 2013.
- The federal tax contribution of Colorado’s Latino population included $2 billion to Social Security and $464 million to Medicare in 2013. In particular, foreign-born Latinos contributed $599 million to Social Security and $140 million to Medicare in 2013.
- Unauthorized immigrants comprised 4.7% of the state’s workforce (or 130,000 workers) in 2012, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.
- If all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Colorado, the state would lose $8 billion in economic activity, $3.6 billion in gross state product, and approximately 39,738 jobs, even accounting for adequate market adjustment time, according to a report by the Perryman Group.
Unauthorized immigrants pay taxes.
- Unauthorized immigrants in Colorado paid $144 million in state and local taxes in 2012, including $85.1 million in sales taxes, $21.7 million in personal income taxes, and $37.3 million in property taxes, according to data from the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy.
- Were unauthorized immigrants in Colorado to have lawful permanent residence, they would pay $182.3 million in state and local taxes, including $93.6 million in sales taxes, $47.7 million in personal income taxes, and $41 million in property taxes.
Immigrants are integral to Colorado’s economy as students.
- Colorado’s 9,621 foreign students contributed $303.4 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 Colorado’s metropolitan areas. From 2008 to 2012, according to the Brookings Institution, 6,360 foreign students paid $148 million in tuition and $69 million in living costs in the Denver-Aurora-Broomfield metropolitan area. In the Boulder metro area, 2,442 foreign students paid $68 million in tuition and $30 million in living costs. In the Fort Collins-Loveland metro area, 1,856 foreign students paid $37 million in tuition and $20 million in living costs.
- Foreign students also contribute to innovation in Colorado. In 2009, “non-resident aliens” comprised 21.0 percent of masters degrees and 21.4 percent 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 Colorado, 34.8% of foreign-born persons who were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2011 had a bachelor’s or higher degree, compared to 19.5% of noncitizens. At the same time, only 18.2% of naturalized citizens lacked a high-school diploma, compared to 45.4% of noncitizens.
- The number of immigrants in Colorado with a college degree increased by 58.5% between 2000 and 2011, according to data from the Migration Policy Institute.
- In Colorado, 78.8% 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 in Colorado was 88.2%, while for Latino children it was 85.9%, as of 2009.