When Immigration Matters

Census Reveals Foreign Workers Increasing

Posted by Michael Pollak on Wed, Dec 16, 2009 @ 11:02 AM

Sam Roberts of the New York Times reports that nearly one in six American workers is foreign-born, the highest proportion since the 1920s, according to a recently released census analysis.

The percentage of immigrants in several states is staggering.  Immigrants accounted for more than one in four workers in California (35 percent), New York (27 percent), New Jersey (26 percent) and Nevada (25 percent) in 2007.

Another interesting trend was revealed when the Census Bureau (for the first time) also compared immigrants by generation.  As expected, income and other measures of achievement rose from one generation to the next, although educational attainment peaked with the second generation.  This reflects the drive instilled into second generation immigrants from their parents. 

Other highlights include:

  • Median income rose from $50,867 in the first generation to $63,359 and $65,144 in the second and third, respectively.
  • Immigrant families living below the government's official poverty level declined, from 16.5 percent to 14.5 to 11.5 among three generations.
  • High school graduates increased from one generation to the next, although the share who had bachelor's degrees or more higher education declined from the second to the third generations. Doctorates peaked with the first generation.

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