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E.g., 09/28/2023
MPI Releases Data on the Work Immigrants Do in Each State
Press Release
Wednesday, April 25, 2007

MPI Releases Data on the Work Immigrants Do in Each State

Data Tool Also Includes Current Demographic, Education 
and English-Language Proficiency Characteristics of the Foreign Born

WASHINGTON -- A new research tool from the Migration Policy Institute provides instant access to information on the foreign born in the workforce nationally and in each of the 50 states.  With the click of a button, journalists and researchers can access data from a selected state, including:

  • Top occupations and industries of native-born and foreign-born people;
  • Growth in foreign-born workers between 2000 and 2005;
  • Workers’ English-proficiency levels and languages they speak at home;
  • The percentage of the state workforce that is foreign born compared to other states; and more.

The research tool uses 2005 American Community Survey and U.S. Census data.  These data show:

  • The number of foreign-born workers* employed in the United States grew 29 percent from 15.9 million to 20.7 million between 2000 and 2005.
  • Fifteen percent of all workers employed in the United States are foreign born.
  • Of all states, California has the highest share of employed workers who are foreign born -- 34 percent.
  • The top three occupations of foreign-born workers in the United States are management/professional, service, and sales/office occupations.
  • The top three industries of foreign-born workers in the United States are educational services, health care, and social assistance; manufacturing; and arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food services.
  • Among all workers (both native and foreign-born) employed in civilian and military jobs in the United States, 9 percent are limited English proficient, meaning they reported speaking English less than "very well.”

The tool also provides state-level data on social and demographic characteristics as well as English-language proficiency and educational attainment levels of the foreign born.  Next month, MPI will add data on income and poverty levels of the foreign born in each state.

*Unless otherwise stated, data on workers refer only to those in the civilian, nonmilitary labor force ages 16 and older.  “Labor force” refers to people who are employed or currently unemployed but actively looking for jobs.