According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of foreign born in the United States increased from 19.8 million in 1990 to 31.1 million in 2000. Although the foreign born remain concentrated in certain states, such as California, Texas, and New York, the foreign-born populations in "non-traditional" states, such as North Carolina, Georgia, and Nevada, have experienced considerable and rapid growth. This spotlight examines the geographic distribution of the foreign born in the United States. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 1990 Census of Population and Housing and Census 2000.)
California, Texas, and New York have the largest numbers of foreign born.
According to Census 2000, the states with the largest foreign-born populations were California (8.9 million), New York (3.9 million), and Texas (2.9 million). The remaining 10 states with the largest foreign-born populations include Florida (2.7 million), Illinois (1.5 million), New Jersey (1.5 million), Massachusetts (0.8 million), Arizona (0.7 million), Washington (0.6 million), and Georgia (0.6 million). The United States as a whole had 31.1 million foreign born.
Wyoming, North Dakota, and South Dakota have the smallest numbers of foreign born.
The states with the smallest foreign-born populations in 2000 were Wyoming (11,200), North Dakota (12,100), and South Dakota (13,500). Other states with less than 40,000 foreign born include Montana (16,400), West Virginia (19,400), Vermont (23,200), Maine (36,700), Alaska (37,200), and Mississippi (39,900).
The states with the largest percent foreign born are California and New York, followed by New Jersey and Hawaii.
In 2000, the states with the largest percent foreign born in their total populations were California (26.2 percent) and New York (20.4 percent) followed by New Jersey (17.5 percent) and Hawaii (17.5 percent). The percent foreign born in these states was higher than the percent foreign born in the entire United States (11.1 percent), which was also true for Florida (16.7 percent), Nevada (15.8 percent), Texas (13.9 percent), Arizona (12.8 percent), Illinois (12.3 percent), Massachusetts (12.2 percent), Rhode Island (11.4 percent), and the District of Columbia (12.9 percent).
Five states, including West Virginia, Mississippi, South Dakota, Montana, and North Dakota, have less than 2 percent foreign born in their total populations.
According to Census 2000, the states with the lowest percent foreign born were West Virginia (1.1 percent), Mississippi (1.4 percent), South Dakota (1.8 percent), Montana (1.8 percent), and North Dakota (1.9 percent). Nine other states had less than 3 percent foreign born in their total populations, including Alabama (2.0 percent), Kentucky (2.0 percent), Wyoming (2.3 percent), Louisiana (2.6 percent), Missouri (2.7 percent), Arkansas (2.8 percent), Tennessee (2.8 percent), Maine (2.9 percent) and South Carolina (2.9 percent).
North Carolina, Georgia, and Nevada experienced the greatest increase in their foreign-born populations.
The states that experienced the greatest percent increase in their foreign-born populations between 1990 and 2000 include North Carolina (273.7 percent), Georgia (233.4 percent), and Nevada (202.0 percent). Other states whose foreign-born populations increased by over 135 percent include Arkansas (196.3 percent), Utah (170.8 percent), Tennessee (169.0 percent), Nebraska (164.7 percent), Colorado (159.7 percent), Arizona (135.9 percent), and Kentucky (135.3 percent). For the United States, the foreign-born population grew by 57.4 percent.
The states that experienced the smallest increase in their foreign-born populations include Maine and Montana.
Maine (1.1 percent) and Montana (19.0 percent) experienced the smallest increase in their foreign-born populations between 1990 and 2000, followed by West Virginia (23.4 percent), Rhode Island (25.4 percent), and North Dakota (29.0 percent). Although the District of Columbia had a large percentage of foreign born in its total population, the foreign born population grew by only 24.9 percent.
The West region had the highest number of foreign born and the highest percentage of foreign born in its total population, but the South region experienced the greatest percent change.
The West had the largest foreign-born population, with 11.9 million, followed by the South (8.6 million), the Northeast (7.2 million) and the Midwest (3.3 million). The West also had the highest percent foreign born in its total population, with 17.5 percent, followed by the Northeast (13.5 percent), South (8.6 percent) and Midwest (5.6 percent). The South had the highest percent increase, with 87.9 percent, followed by the Midwest (56.1 percent), the West (52.7 percent), and the Northeast (38.2 percent).
For more information on the distribution of the foreign born in the United States, click here.
States by Region