New Americans in Utah
The Political and Economic Power of Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians in the Beehive State
Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians account for large and growing shares of the economy and population in Utah. Immigrants (the foreign-born) make up 8.2% 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 6.6% of registered voters in the state. Immigrants are not only integral to the state’s economy as workers, but also account for tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue and consumer purchasing power. Moreover, Latinos and Asians (both foreign-born and native-born) wield $10.3 billion in consumer purchasing power, and the businesses they own had sales and receipts of $2.6 billion and employed more than 20,000 people at last count. As the economy continues to grow, Utah 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 Utah’s population and electorate.
- The foreign-born share of Utah’s population rose from 3.4% in 1990, to 7.1% in 2000, to 8.2% in 2013, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Utah was home to 236,954 immigrants in 2013, which more than the total population of Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
- 37.2% of immigrants (or 88,045 people) in Utah were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2013—meaning that they are eligible to vote.
- Unauthorized immigrants comprised roughly 3.6% of the state’s population (or 100,000 people) in 2012, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.
- 6.6% (or 74,536) of registered voters in Utah 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.
Roughly 1 in 7 Utahans are Latino or Asian—and they vote.
- The Latino share of Utah’s population grew from 4.9% in 1990, to 9.0% in 2000, to 13.4% (or 387,569 people) in 2013. The Asian share of the population grew from 1.5% in 1990, to 1.7% in 2000, to 2.2% (or 62,671 people) in 2013, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
- Latinos accounted for 4.8% (or 49,000) of Utah voters in the 2012 elections, and Asians accounted for 1.2% (or 12,000) according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
- In Utah, 87.1% of children with immigrant parents were U.S. citizens in 2009, according to data from the Urban Institute.
- In 2009, 94% of children in Asian families in Utah were U.S. citizens, as were 90% of children in Latino families.
Immigrant, Latino, and Asian entrepreneurs and consumers add billions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs to Utah’s economy.
- The 2014 purchasing power of Latinos in Utah totaled $7.4 billion—an increase of 905% since 1990. Asian buying power totaled $2.8 billion—an increase of 736% 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 $3,148 in Salt Lake County, and $1,392 in Utah County.
- Utah’s 4,646 Asian-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $1.3 billion and employed 12,561 people in 2007, the last year for which data is available. The state’s 9,238 Latino-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $1.3 billion and employed 7,850 people in 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners.
- From 2006 to 2010, there were 9,229 new immigrant business owners in Utah, and new immigrant business owners had total net business income of $388 million (which is 6.1% of all net business income in the state), according to Robert Fairlie of the University of California, Santa Cruz.
- In 2010, 6.9% of all business owners in Utah were foreign-born, according to the Fiscal Policy Institute.
- In the Salt Lake City metropolitan area, 10.2% of business owners were foreign-born in 2013, according to the Fiscal Policy Institute and Americans Society/Council of the Americas. Furthermore, 15.5% of “Main Street” business owners—owners of businesses in the retail, accommodation and food services, and neighborhood services sectors—in the Salt Lake City metro area were foreign-born in 2013.
Immigrants are integral to Utah’s economy as workers and taxpayers.
- Immigrants comprised 10.8% of the state’s workforce in 2013 (or 151,564 workers), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
- Latinos in Utah paid $724 million in federal taxes and $399 million in state/local taxes in 2013, according to the Partnership for a New American Economy. In particular, foreign-born Latinos paid $313 million in federal taxes and $195 million in state/local taxes in 2013.Unauthorized immigrants comprised 5.1% of the state’s workforce (or 70,000 workers) in 2012, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.
- The federal tax contribution of Utah’s Latino population included $598 million to Social Security and $140 million to Medicare in 2013. In particular, foreign-born Latinos contributed $285 million to Social Security and $67 million to Medicare in 2013.
- If all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Utah, the state would lose $2.3 billion in economic activity, $1.0 billion in gross state product, and approximately 14,219 jobs, even accounting for adequate market adjustment time, according to a report by the Perryman Group.
Unauthorized immigrants pay taxes.
- Unauthorized immigrants in Utah paid $74.8 million in state and local taxes in 2012, including $43.8 million in sales taxes, $13.8 million in personal income taxes, and $17.3 million in property taxes, according to data from the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy.
- Were unauthorized immigrants in Utah to have lawful permanent residence, they would pay $97.4 million in state and local taxes, including $48.1 million in sales taxes, $30.3 million in personal income taxes, and $19 million in property taxes.
Immigrants are integral to Utah’s economy as students.
- Utah’s 8,449 foreign students contributed $192.8 million to the state’s economy in tuition, fees and living expenses for the 2013-2014 academic year, according to the NAFSA: Association of International Educators.
- Foreign students contribute to Utah’s metropolitan areas. From 2008 to 2012, according to the Brookings Institution, 4,198 foreign students paid $74 million in tuition and $57 million in living costs in the Salt Lake City metropolitan area. In the Provo-Orem metro area, 3,527 foreign students paid $25 million in tuition and $33 million in living costs.
- Foreign students also contribute to innovation in Utah. In 2009, “non-resident aliens” comprised 20.8% of master’s degrees and 43.5% of doctorate degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, according to the Partnership for a New American Economy.
Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups of new converts to the Mormon Church.
- Mormons now make up 58% of Utah’s population, according to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.
- Latinos are now more that half of the 14 million Mormons claimed by the church worldwide and will make up the majority by 2025, according to some estimates.
Naturalized citizens excel educationally.
- In Utah, 26.7% of foreign-born persons who were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2011 had a bachelor’s or higher degree, compared to 17.1% of noncitizens. At the same time, only 24.5% of naturalized citizens lacked a high-school diploma, compared to 40.6% of noncitizens.
- The number of immigrants in Utah with a college degree increased by 69.7% between 2000 and 2011, according to data from the Migration Policy Institute.
- In Utah, 85.3% 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 Utah was 93.3%, while for Latino children it was 87.4%, as of 2009.