New Americans in Maine
The Political and Economic Power of Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians in the Pine Tree State
Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians account for significant and growing shares of the economy and population in Maine. Immigrants (the foreign-born) make up 3.4% of the state’s population, and more than half of them are naturalized U.S. citizens who are eligible to vote. Moreover, Latinos and Asians (both foreign-born and native-born) wield $928 million in consumer purchasing power, and the businesses they own had sales and receipts of $442.5 million and employed more than 3,000 people at last count. As the economy continues to grow, Maine can ill-afford to alienate an important component of its labor force, tax base, and business community—especially since the state’s population is aging rapidly and a growing number of retirees are depending on a declining number of workers.
Immigrants and their children are significant shares of Maine’s population and electorate.
- The foreign-born share of Maine’s population was 3.4% in 2013, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Maine was home to 44,687 immigrants in 2013.
- 56.7% of immigrants (or 25,351 people) in Maine were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2013—meaning that they are eligible to vote.
- Unauthorized immigrants comprised less than 0.2% of the state’s population (or fewer than 5,000 people) in 2012, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.
- 3.1% (or 24,030) of registered voters in Maine 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.
Maine is home to an appreciable number of Latinos and Asians.
- The Latino share of Maine’s population grew from 0.7% in 2000 to 1.4% (or 18,432 people) in 2013. The Asian share of the population grew from 0.7% in 2000 to 1.1% (or 14,059 people) in 2013, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
- In Maine, 79.5% of children with immigrant parents were U.S. citizens in 2009, according to data from the Urban Institute.
- In 2009, 97.2% of children in Latino families in Maine were U.S. citizens.
Immigrant, Latino, and Asian entrepreneurs and consumers add hundreds of millions of dollars and hundreds of jobs to Maine’s economy.
- The 2014 purchasing power of Maine’s Latinos totaled $424 million—an increase of 650% since 1990. Asian buying power totaled $504 million—an increase of 522% since 1990, according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia.
- Maine’s 1,107 Asian-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $279.3 million and employed 2,550 people in 2007, the last year for which data is available. The state’s 979 Latino-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $163.2 million in 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners.
- From 2006 to 2010, there were 2,711 new immigrant business owners in Maine. These businesses had total net business income of $120 million (3.3% of all net business income in the state), according to Robert Fairlie of the University of California, Santa Cruz.
- In 2010, 3.2% of all business owners in Maine were foreign-born, according to the Fiscal Policy Institute.
Immigrants are important to Maine’s economy as workers and taxpayers.
- Immigrants comprised 3.6% of the state’s workforce in 2013 (or 25,333 workers), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
- Unauthorized immigrants comprised less than 1% of the state’s workforce (or fewer than 5,000 workers) in 2012, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.
- Latinos in Maine paid $41.9 million in federal taxes and $22.8 million in state/local taxes in 2013, according to the Partnership for a New American Economy. In particular, foreign-born Latinos paid more than $19 million in federal taxes and $7.9 million in state/local taxes in 2013.If all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Maine, the state would lose $137 million in economic activity, $60.9 million in gross state product, and approximately 1,080 jobs, even accounting for adequate market adjustment time, according to a report by the Perryman Group.
- The federal tax contribution of Maine’s Latino population included $31.8 million to Social Security and $7.4 million to Medicare in 2013. In particular, foreign-born Latinos contributed $11.7 million to Social Security and $2.7 million to Medicare in 2013.
- The importance of immigrant workers is growing as Maine’s population becomes older. Over the next two decades, the ratio of seniors (age 65 and older) to prime-working-age adults (age 25 to 64) in Maine will increase by 93%, according to a study by the University of Southern California.
Unauthorized immigrants pay taxes.
- Unauthorized immigrants in Maine paid $3.7 million in state and local taxes in 2010, including $2.8 million in sales taxes, $464,000 in state income taxes, and $432 thousand in property taxes, according to data from the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy.
- Were unauthorized immigrants in Maine to have legal status, they would pay $4.5 million in state and local taxes, including $2.9 million in sales taxes, $1.1 million in state income taxes, and $451,000 in property taxes.
Immigrants contribute to Maine’s economy as students.
- Maine’s 1,198 foreign students contributed $44.1 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 also contribute to innovation in Maine. In 2009, “non-resident aliens” comprised 20.8% of master’s degrees and 41.7% of doctorate degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, according to the Partnership for a New American Economy.
Immigrants have helped revitalize Lewiston.
- Roughly 3,500 Somali migrants came to Lewiston between 2001 and 2007, and now comprise 10% of the town’s population—the highest concentration of Somalis in America, according to a report by the United Nations Development Program.
- Although enrollment at the University of Maine has declined statewide since 2002, the student population at its Lewiston campus increased 16% between 2002 and 2007.
Immigrants excel educationally.
- The number of immigrants in Maine with a college degree increased by 53.7% between 2000 and 2011, according to data from the Migration Policy Institute.
- 34% of Maine’s foreign-born population age 25 and older had at least a bachelor’s degree in 2011, compared to 28.2% of native-born persons age 25 and older.
- In Maine, 83.1% of children with immigrant parents were considered “English proficient” as of 2009, according to data from the Urban Institute.
- The English proficiency rate among Latino children in Maine was 94.1% as of 2009.