Skip to Content

Programs:

New Americans in Iowa

Iowa ThumbThe Political and Economic Power of Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians in the Hawkeye State (Updated May 2013)

Download the 2013 Infographic (2010 Version)

Download the Fact Sheet (Updated 2014)

Download the Previous Fact Sheet (From 2010)

View the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Fact Sheet for Iowa

Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians account for growing shares of the economy and population in Iowa. Immigrants (the foreign-born) make up 4.4% 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 2.6% of registered voters in the state. Immigrants are not only integral to the state’s economy as workers, but also account for tens of million of dollars in tax revenue and consumer purchasing power. Moreover, Latinos and Asians (both foreign-born and native-born) wield $5.6 billion in consumer purchasing power, and the businesses they own had sales and receipts of more than $1.2 billion and employed more than 13,000 people at last count. At a time when the economy is still recovering, Iowa 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 Iowa’s population and electorate. 

  • The foreign-born share of Iowa’s population rose from 1.6% in 1990, to 3.1% in 2000, to 4.4% in 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Iowa was home to 133,547 immigrants in 2011, which is more than the total population of Springfield, Illinois.
  • 37.6% of immigrants (or 50,232 people) in Iowa were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2011—meaning that they are eligible to vote.
  • Unauthorized immigrants comprised roughly 2.7% of the state’s population (or 75,000 people) in 2010, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.
  • 2.6% (or 42,389) of registered voters in Iowa 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 2008 Census Bureau data by Rob Paral & Associates.

1 in 15 Iowans are Latino or Asian. 

  • The Latino share of Iowa’s population grew from 1.2% in 1990, to 2.8% in 2000, to 5% (or 153,241 people) in 2011. The Asian share of the population grew from 0.9% in 1990, to 1.3% in 2000, to 1.8% (or 56,040 people) in 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Latinos accounted for 1.3% (or 20,000) of Iowa voters in the 2008 elections, and Asians 0.7% (11,000), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • In Iowa, 85.2% of children with immigrant parents were U.S. citizens in 2009, according to data from the Urban Institute.
  • In 2009, 88.1% of children in Asian families in Iowa were U.S. citizens, as were 91.4% of children in Latino families.

Latino and Asian entrepreneurs and consumers add billions of dollars and thousands of jobs to Iowa’s economy.

  • The 2012 purchasing power of Latinos in Iowa totaled $3.4 billion—an increase of 996% since 1990. Asian buying power totaled $2.2 billion—an increase of 713% since 1990, according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia.
  • Iowa’s 2,834 Asian-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $782.6 million and employed 10,130 people in 2007, the last year for which data is available. The state’s 2,455 Latino-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $455.7 million and employed 3,289 people in 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners.

Unauthorized immigrant families are integral to Iowa’s economy as taxpayers.

  • Unauthorized immigrants in Iowa paid $64.1 million in state and local taxes in 2010, including $47.7 million in sales taxes, $12 million in state income taxes, and $4.3 million in property taxes, according to data from the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy.
  • Were unauthorized immigrants in Iowa to have legal status, they would pay $82.1 million in state and local taxes, including $50.9 million in sales taxes, $26.6 million in state income taxes, and $4.6 million in property taxes.
  • Iowa employers and unauthorized workers paid between $50.3 million and $77.8 million in Social Security and Medicare taxes to the federal government in 2007— benefits these workers will never collect.

Immigrants are integral to Iowa’s economy as workers. 

  • Immigrants comprised 5.3% of the state’s workforce in 2011 (or 86,805 workers), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Unauthorized immigrants comprised 3.2% of the state’s workforce (or 55,000 workers) in 2010, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.
  • If all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Iowa, the state would lose $1.4 billion in economic activity, $613.4 million in gross state product, and approximately 8,819 jobs, even accounting for adequate market adjustment time, according to a report by the Perryman Group. 

Immigrants are integral to Iowa’s economy as students.

Immigrants excel educationally. 

  • The number of immigrants in Iowa with a college degree increased by 67.7% between 2000 and 2011, according to data from the Migration Policy Institute. 
  • In Iowa, only 26.6% of naturalized citizens lacked a high-school diploma in 2011, compared to 40.1% of noncitizens. 
  • In Iowa, 87% 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 Iowa was 91.5%, while for Latino children it was 87%, as of 2009.

Published On: Fri, Jan 11, 2013 | Download File