New Americans in Nebraska
The Political and Economic Power of Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians in the Cornhusker State
Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians account for growing shares of the economy and population in Nebraska. Immigrants (the foreign-born) make up 6.6% of the state’s population, 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 4.3% of registered voters in the state. Immigrants not only contribute to the state’s economy as workers, but also account for tens of million of dollars in tax revenue and consumer purchasing power. Moreover, Latinos and Asians (both foreign-born and native-born) wield $5.3 billion in consumer purchasing power, and the businesses they own had sales and receipts of nearly $1.3 billion and employed more than 8,700 people at last count. As the economy continues to grow, Nebraska can ill-afford to alienate an important component of its labor force, tax base, and business community.
Immigrants and their children are growing shares of Nebraska’s population and electorate.
- The foreign-born share of Nebraska’s population rose from 1.8% in 1990, to 4.4% in 2000, to 6.6% in 2013, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Nebraska was home to 123,182 immigrants in 2013, which is more than the population of Berkeley, California.
- 33.9% of immigrants (or 41,774 people) in Nebraska were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2013—meaning that they are eligible to vote.
- Unauthorized immigrants comprised roughly 2.8% of the state’s population (or 55,000 people) in 2012, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.
- 4.3% (or 38,869) of registered voters in Nebraska 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 9 Nebraskans are Latino or Asian.
- The Latino share of Nebraska’s population grew from 2.3% in 1990, to 5.5% in 2000, to 9.8% (or 183,182 people) in 2013. The Asian share of the population grew from 0.8% in 1990, to 1.3% in 2000, to 2% (or 37,356 people) in 2013, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
- Latinos accounted for 2.6% (or 21,000) of Nebraska voters in the 2012 elections, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
- In Nebraska, 85.3% of children with immigrant parents were U.S. citizens in 2009, according to data from the Urban Institute.
- In 2009, 87.3% of children in Asian families in Nebraska were U.S. citizens, as were 92.5% of children in Latino families.
Immigrant, Latino, and Asian entrepreneurs and consumers add billions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs to Nebraska’s economy.
- The 2014 purchasing power of Latinos in Nebraska totaled $3.9 billion—an increase of 1,052% since 1990. Asian buying power totaled $1.4 billion—an increase of 937% 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 $1,657 in Douglas County.
- Nebraska’s 2,277 Asian-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $483.6 million and employed 5,425 people in 2007, the last year for which data is available. The state’s 3,063 Latino-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $786.7 million and employed 3,351 people in 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners.
- From 2006 to 2010, there were 3,905 new immigrant business owners in Nebraska, and new immigrant business owners had total net business income of $126 million (which is 2.7 percent of all net business income in the state), according to Robert Fairlie of the University of California, Santa Cruz.
- In 2010, 3.8 percent of all business owners in Nebraska were foreign-born, according to the Fiscal Policy Institute.
Immigrants make vital economic contributions to Nebraska’s state and local economy.
- Immigrant spending accounted for $1.6 billion worth of total production in Nebraska’s economy and generated roughly 12,000 jobs for the state in 2006, according to a study from the University of Nebraska-Omaha.
- Immigrant spending made a large impact on the state’s local economies in 2006, including:
- $1.14 billion in production and 8,331 jobs in Omaha and Lincoln.
- $204 million in production and 1,275 jobs in Nebraska’s Eastern region.
- $238 million in production and 1,896 jobs in Nebraska’s Western region.
- Nebraska’s immigrants also contributed roughly $154 million in property, income, sales, and gas tax revenue in 2006, according to the same study.
Immigrants are integral to Nebraska’s economy as workers and taxpayers.
- Immigrants comprised 8% of the state’s workforce in 2013 (or 81,212 workers), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
- Latinos in Nebraska paid $325 million in federal taxes and $202 million in state/local taxes in 2013 according to the Partnership for a New American Economy. In particular, foreign-born Latinos paid $145 million in federal taxes and $102 million in state/local taxes in 2013.Unauthorized immigrants comprised 3.7% of the state’s workforce (or 40,000 workers) in 2012, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.
- The federal tax contribution of Nebraska’s Latino population included $267 million to Social Security and $63 million to Medicare in 2013. In particular, foreign-born Latinos contributed $131 million to Social Security and $31 million to Medicare in 2013.
- If all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Nebraska, the state would lose $852.4 million in economic activity, $378.6 million in gross state product, and approximately 5,400 jobs, even accounting for adequate market adjustment time, according to a report by the Perryman Group.
Unauthorized immigrants pay taxes.
- Unauthorized immigrants in Nebraska paid $44.4 million in state and local taxes in 2012, which includes $24.6 million in sales taxes, $4.4 million in personal income taxes, and $15.4 million in property taxes, according to data from the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy.
- Were unauthorized immigrants in Nebraska to have lawful permanent residence, they would pay $52.4 million in state and local taxes, including $27 million in sales taxes, $8.4 million in personal income taxes, and $16.9 million in property taxes.
Immigrants are integral to Nebraska’s economy as students.
- Nebraska’s 5,292 foreign students contributed $124.9 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 Nebraska’s metropolitan areas. From 2008 to 2012, according to the Brookings Institution, 2,665 foreign students paid $32 million in tuition and $25 million in living costs in the Omaha-Council Bluffs metropolitan area. In the Lincoln metro area, 2,943 foreign students paid $37 million in tuition and $40 million in living costs.
- Foreign students also contribute to innovation in Nebraska. In 2009, “non-resident aliens” comprised 12.5 percent of master’s degrees and 36.4 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.
- The number of immigrants in Nebraska with a college degree increased by 67.6% between 2000 and 2011, according to data from the Migration Policy Institute.
- In Nebraska, 75% 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 Nebraska was 83.2%, while for Latino children it was 81.7%, as of 2009.