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New Americans in Virginia

Virginia ThumbThe Political and Economic Power of Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians in the Old Dominion State (Updated May 2013)

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Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians constitute large and growing shares of the economy and electorate in Virginia. Immigrants (the foreign-born) account for 1 in 9 Virginians, and 47% of them are naturalized U.S. citizens who are eligible to vote. “New Americans”—immigrants and the children of immigrants—accounted for 9.3% of Virginia voters in 2008. Moreover, Latinos and Asians (both foreign-born and native-born) wield more than $43 billion in consumer purchasing power, and the businesses they own had sales and receipts of $19 billion and employed more than 126,000 people at last count. Immigrant, Latino, and Asian workers and entrepreneurs are integral to Virginia’s economy and tax base—and they are an electoral force with which every politician must reckon.

1 in 9 Virginians are immigrants.

  • The foreign-born share of Virginia’s population rose from 5.0% in 1990, to 8.1% in 2000, to 11.1% in 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Virginia was home to 900,243 immigrants in 2011, which is nearly the total population of San Jose, California.
  • 47% of immigrants (or 423,345 people) in Virginia 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 210,000 people) in 2010, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.
  • 9.3% (or 367,384) of all registered voters in Virginia are “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.

Nearly 1 in 8 Virginians are Latino or Asian—and they vote.

  • The Latino share of Virginia’s population grew from 2.6% in 1990, to 4.7% in 2000, to 8% (or 648,793 people) in 2011. The Asian share of the population grew from 2.5% in 1990, to 3.7% in 2000, to 5.6% (or 455,242 people) in 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Latinos comprised 2.0% (or 48,000) of Virginia voters in the 2008 elections, and Asians 3.7% (or 136,000), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • In Virginia, 88.3% of children with immigrant parents were U.S. citizens in 2009, according to data from the Urban Institute.
  • In 2009, 88.4% of children in Asian families in Virginia were U.S. citizens, as were 90.7% of children in Latino families.

Unauthorized immigrants contribute to Virginia’s economy.

  • Households headed by unauthorized immigrants in Virginia paid $165.3 million in state and local taxes in 2010, according to data by the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy.
  • Unauthorized immigrants in Virginia paid between $260 million and $311 million in total taxes in 2007, according to a study by the Commonwealth Institute. This included:
    • $145 million to $174 million in state income, excise, and property taxes.
    • $93 million to $111 million in Social Security taxes.
    • $22 million to $26 million in Medicare taxes.
  • In addition, Virginia employers paid between $119 million and $142 million in taxes on behalf of unauthorized workers in 2007, including:
    • $93 million to $111 million in Social Security taxes.
    • $22 million to $26 million in Medicare taxes.
    • $4 million to $5 million in state unemployment insurance taxes.
  • The state’s unauthorized population, which earned between $2.6 billion and $3.1 billion in 2007, even after accounting for remittances sent back to their home countries, uses their income to purchase Virginia’s goods and services.

Immigrants are essential to Virginia’s economy as workers.

  • Immigrants comprised 14.6% of the state’s workforce (or 624,635 workers) in 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Unauthorized immigrants comprised 3.9% of the state’s workforce (or 160,000 workers) in 2010, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.
  • If all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Virginia, the state would lose $11.2 billion in economic activity, $5.5 billion in gross state product, and approximately 62,918 jobs, even accounting for adequate market adjustment time, according to a report by the Perryman Group.

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

  • The 2012 purchasing power of Virginia’s Latinos totaled $19.5 billion—an increase of 801% since 1990. Asian buying power totaled $23.5 billion—an increase of 811% since 1990, according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia.
  • Virginia’s 44,575 Asian-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $13.2 billion and employed 92,141 people in 2007, the last year for which data is available. The state’s 28,578 Latino-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $5.9 billion and employed 34,177 people in 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners.

Immigrants are integral to Virginia’s economy as students.

Naturalized citizens excel educationally.

  • In Virginia, 48.8% of foreign-born persons who were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2011 had a bachelor’s or higher degree, compared to 33.5% of noncitizens. At the same time, only 10.4% of naturalized citizens lacked a high-school diploma, compared to 27.1% of noncitizens. 
  • The number of immigrants in Virginia with a college degree increased by 91.1% between 2000 and 2011, according to data from the Migration Policy Institute.
  • 41.2% of Virginia’s foreign-born population age 25 and older had a bachelor’s or higher degree in 2011, compared to 34.1% of native-born persons age 25 and older.
  • In Virginia, 86.6% 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 Virginia was 86.6%, while for Latino children it was 84.9%, as of 2009.

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