New Americans in Georgia
The Political and Economic Power of Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians the Peach State
Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians account for growing shares of the economy and electorate in Georgia. Nearly 1 in 10 Georgians are immigrants (foreign-born), and more than one-third of them are naturalized U.S. citizens who are eligible to vote. “New Americans”—immigrants and the children of immigrants—account for 7.4% of registered voters in the state. Immigrants are not only integral 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 $31.7 billion in consumer purchasing power, and the businesses they own had sales and receipts of $20.6 billion and employed nearly 110,000 people at last count. As the economy continues to grow, Georgia 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 Georgia’s population and electorate.
- The foreign-born share of Georgia’s population rose from 2.7% in 1990, to 7.1% in 2000, to 9.7% in 2013, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Georgia was home to 970,979 immigrants in 2013, which is more than the entire population of Austin, Texas.
- 38.7% of immigrants (or 375,460 people) in Georgia were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2013—meaning that they are eligible to vote.
- Unauthorized immigrants comprised 3.9% of the state’s population (or 400,000 people) in 2012, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.
- 7.4% (or 354,448) of all registered voters in Georgia 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.
More than 1 in 10 Georgians are Latino or Asian.
- The Latino share of Georgia’s population grew from 1.7% in 1990, to 5.3% in 2000, to 9.1% (or 907,400) in 2013. The Asian share of the population grew from 1.1% in 1990, to 2.1% in 2000, to 3.5% (or 354,384) in 2013, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
- Latinos comprised 2.7% (or 114,000) of Georgia voters in the 2012 elections, and Asians 2% (or 83,000) according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
- In Georgia, 84.5% of children with immigrant parents were U.S. citizens in 2009, according to data from the Urban Institute.
- In 2009, 83.2% of children in Asian families in Georgia were U.S. citizens, as were 86.7% of children in Latino families.
Immigrant, Latino, and Asian entrepreneurs and consumers add billions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs to Georgia’s economy.
- The 2014 purchasing power of Georgia’s Latinos totaled $17.6 billion—an increase of 1,232% since 1990. Asian buying power totaled $14.1 billion—an increase of 1,172% 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 $4,216 in Fulton County; $11,496 in Gwinnett County; $1,197 in DeKalb County; and $3,779 in Cobb County.
- Georgia’s 46,222 Asian-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $14.6 billion and employed 82,186 people in 2007, the last year for which data is available. The state’s 32,574 Latino-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $6 billion and employed 25,874 people in 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners.
- From 2006 to 2010, there were 63,342 new immigrant business owners in Georgia. They collectively had total net business income of $2.9 billion (12.3 percent of all net business income in the state), according to Robert Fairlie of the University of California, Santa Cruz. In 2010, 14.8 percent of all business owners in Georgia were foreign-born, according to the Fiscal Policy Institute.
- In 2010, the foreign-born share of business owners was 21 percent in the Atlanta metro area, according to the Fiscal Policy Institute.
- Immigrants also contribute to Georgia’s economy by earning patents on new research, products, and ideas; 88 percent of patents from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2011 had at least one foreign-born inventor. These patents from 2011 amount to $2.3 million in Georgia Institute of Technology licensing and royalty revenues, according to the Partnership for a New American Economy.
Immigrants are integral to Georgia’s economy as workers and taxpayers.
- Immigrants comprised 13% of the state’s workforce in 2013 (or 636,619 workers), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
- Latinos in Georgia paid $1.9 billion in federal taxes and $1 billion in state/local taxes in 2013, according to the Partnership for a New American Economy. In particular, foreign-born Latinos paid $1.1 billion in federal taxes and $639 million in state/local taxes in 2013.
- The federal tax contribution of Georgia’s Latino population included $1.4 billion to Social Security and $332 million to Medicare in 2013. In particular, foreign-born Latinos contributed $858 million to Social Security and $200 million to Medicare in 2013.
Unauthorized immigrants contribute to the state’s economy.
- Unauthorized immigrants comprised 7% of Georgia’s workforce in 2012 (or 325,000 workers), according to a report by the Pew Research Center.
- If all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Georgia, the state would lose $21.3 billion in economic activity, $9.5 billion in gross state product, and approximately 132,460 jobs, even accounting for adequate market adjustment time, according to a report by the Perryman Group.
- Unauthorized immigrants in Georgia paid $359.8 million in state and local taxes in 2010, including $265.5 million in sales taxes, $60.3 million in state income taxes, and $34 million in property taxes, according to data from the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy.
- Were unauthorized immigrants in Georgia to have legal status, they would pay $456.6 million in state and local taxes, including $280.5 million in sales taxes, $138.6 million in state income taxes, and $37.4 million in property taxes.
Immigrants are integral to Georgia’s economy as students.
- Georgia’s 17,781 foreign students contributed $545.3 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 Georgia’s metropolitan areas. From 2008 to 2012, according to the Brookings Institution, 16,699 foreign students paid $371 million in tuition and $232 million in living costs in the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta metropolitan area. In the Athens-Clarke County metro area, 1,970 foreign students paid $27 million in tuition and $20 million in living costs. In the Savannah metro area, 2,408 foreign students paid $65 million in tuition and $36 million in living costs.
- Foreign students also contribute to innovation in Georgia. In 2009, “non-resident aliens” comprised 46% of master’s degrees and 45.7% 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 Georgia, 38.4% of foreign-born persons who were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2011 had a bachelor’s or higher degree, compared to 21.9% of noncitizens. At the same time, only 16.2% of naturalized citizens lacked a high-school diploma, compared to 40.9% of noncitizens.
The number of immigrants in Georgia with a college degree increased by 90.1% between 2000 and 2011, according to data from the Migration Policy Institute.
In Georgia, 86% 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 Georgia was 88.6%, while for Latino children it was 82.6%, as of 2009.