Immigrants in West Virginia

October 6, 2017

West Virginia has a small but vital immigrant population, much of which hails from Germany. While immigrants account for less than 2 percent of the state’s total population, they help support West Virginia’s economy. Nearly 48 percent of immigrants in West Virginia possess a college degree or higher. Many of the state’s immigrants have chosen to transfer those skills into the education field, with immigrants comprising nearly 8 percent of all residents working in education, training, and library services. As workers, business owners, taxpayers, and neighbors, immigrants are an important part of West Virginia’s diverse and thriving communities and make notable contributions that benefit all.

Almost 2 percent of West Virginia residents are immigrants, while an additional 2 percent are native-born U.S. citizens with at least one immigrant parent.

  • In 2015, 29,522 immigrants (foreign-born individuals) comprised 1.6 percent of the state’s population.
  • West Virginia was home to 13,878 women, 14,062 men, and 1,582 children who were immigrants.
  • The top countries of origin for immigrants were Germany (10.5 percent of immigrants), India (8.7 percent), China (8.5 percent), Iran (7.6 percent), and the Philippines (4.8 percent).
  • In 2016, 38,740 people in West Virginia (2.2 percent of the state’s population) were native-born Americans who had at least one immigrant parent.

Over half of all immigrants in West Virginia are naturalized U.S. citizens.

  • 15,430 immigrants (52.3 percent) had naturalized as of 2015, and 5,681 immigrants were eligible to become naturalized U.S. citizens in 2015.
  • Nine in ten immigrants (90.5 percent) reported speaking English “well” or “very well.”

Immigrants in West Virginia tend to be college-educated.

  • Nearly half of adult immigrants had a college degree or more education in 2015, while 1 in 10 had less than a high school diploma. 

EDUCATION LEVEL

SHARE (%) OF ALL IMMIGRANTS

SHARE (%) OF ALL NATIVES

College degree or more

47.6

19.0

Some college

24.7

25.7

High school diploma only

17.3

41.2

Less than a high-school diploma

10.5

14.1

Nearly 2,000 U.S. citizens in West Virginia live with at least one family member who is undocumented.

  • Fewer than 5,000 undocumented immigrants comprised 15 percent of the immigrant population and 0.2 percent of the total state population in 2014.
  • 4,941 people in West Virginia, including 1,682 born in the United States, lived with at least one undocumented family member between 2010 and 2014.
  • During the same period, less than 1 percent of children in the state were U.S. citizens living with at least one undocumented family member (1,296 children in total).

Approximately 100 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients live in West Virginia.

  • As of 2017, 152 people in West Virginia had applied for DACA.
  • DACA recipients in West Virginia paid an estimated $283,000 in state and local taxes in 2016.

Immigrants are an important part of the West Virginia workforce in a range of industries.

  • 17,745 immigrant workers comprised 2.2 percent of the labor force in 2015.
  • Immigrant workers were most numerous in the following industries:

Industry

Number of Immigrant Workers

Educational Services

5,422

Health Care and Social Assistance

3,478

Retail Trade

2,222

Accommodation and Food Services

1,917

Other Services (except Public Administration)

1,282

Analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey 1-year PUMS data by the American Immigration Council.

  • The largest shares of immigrant workers were in the following industries:

Industry

Immigrant Share (%)
(of all industry workers)

Educational Services

6.1

Other Services (except Public Administration)

3.2

Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation

3.0

Accommodation and Food Services

2.5

Administrative & Support; Waste Management; and Remediation Services

2.4

Analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey 1-year PUMS data by the American Immigration Council.

Immigrants are an integral part of the West Virginia workforce in a range of occupations.

  • In 2015, immigrant workers were most numerous in the following occupation groups:

Occupation Category

Number of Immigrant Workers

Education, Training, and Library Services

3,985

Healthcare Practitioners, Technologists, and Technicians

2,426

Sales and Related

2,136

Office and Administrative Support

1,427

Management

1,354

Analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey 1-year PUMS data by the American Immigration Council.

  • The largest shares of immigrant workers were in the following occupation groups:

Occupation Category

Immigrant Share (%)
(of all workers in occupation)

Life, Physical, and Social Sciences

9.1

Education, Training, and Library Services

7.5

Computer and Mathematical Sciences

6.4

Architecture and Engineering

4.3

Healthcare Practitioners, Technologists, and Technicians

3.6

Analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey 1-year PUMS data by the American Immigration Council.

  • Undocumented immigrants comprised 0.2 percent of the state’s workforce in 2014.

Immigrants in West Virginia have contributed hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes.

  • Immigrant-led households in the state paid $125 million in federal taxes and $51.9 million in state and local taxes in 2014.
  • Undocumented immigrants in West Virginia paid an estimated $5.1 million in state and local taxes in 2014. Their contribution would rise to $6.8 million if they could receive legal status.

As consumers, immigrants add hundreds of millions of dollars to West Virginia’s economy.

  • West Virginia residents in immigrant-led households had $478.2 million in spending power (after-tax income) in 2014.

Immigrant entrepreneurs in West Virginia generate millions of dollars in business revenue.

  • In 2015, 2,565 immigrant business owners accounted for 4.5 percent of all self-employed West Virginia residents and generated $47.6 million in business income.

Most Read

  • Publications
  • Blog Posts
  • Past:
  • Trending