Tuesday, April 14, 2009

PEW: Unauthorized Immigrants More Dispersed Around the Country; Labor Force Growth Halts, But Number of U.S. Born Children Grows

The Pew Hispanic Center today released "A Portrait of Unauthorized Immigrants in the United States," which includes population and labor force estimates for each state, as well as national-level findings about families, education, income and other key indicators.

The report finds that unauthorized immigrants are more geographically dispersed than in the past. A group of 28 high-growth states in the mid-Atlantic, Midwest, Mountain and Southeast regions are now home to 32% of the unauthorized population, more than double their 14% share in 1990. California's share declined to 22% from 42% during this same period.

Unauthorized immigrants are more likely than either U.S.-born residents or legal immigrants to live in a household with a spouse and children, according to the report. A growing share of the children of unauthorized immigrants (73%) are U.S. citizens by birth. The U.S.-born and foreign-born children of unauthorized immigrants make up an estimated 6.8% of the nation's students enrolled in kindergarten through grade 12.

Looking at undocumented workers, the report finds that the rapid growth of the unauthorized immigrant labor force from 1990 to 2006 has halted. The new report estimates there were 8.3 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. labor force in March 2008, accounting for 5.4% of the work force. The 2008 labor force estimate appears slightly lower than the 2007 estimate, but the change is within the margin of error.

The unauthorized immigrant share of the labor force varies widely by state. Undocumented immigrant workers constitute roughly 10% or more of the labor force in Arizona, California and Nevada, but less than 2.5% in most Midwest and Plains states.

About three-quarters (76%) of the nation's unauthorized immigrants are Hispanic. As the Pew Hispanic Center has previously reported, 59% are from Mexico.

The new report builds on a Pew Hispanic Center analysis released last year, which estimated there were 11.9 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. in 2008. That report said the size of the unauthorized population appears to have declined since 2007, but the difference is not statistically significant. Both reports are based on an analysis of data from the March Current Population Survey, conducted by the Census Bureau, and on the 1990 and 2000 Censuses.

Other major findings:

* Adult unauthorized immigrants are disproportionately likely to bepoorly educated. Among unauthorized immigrants ages 25-64, 47% have less than a high school education. By contrast, only 8% of U.S.-born residents ages 25-64 have not graduated from high school.
* An analysis of college attendance finds that among unauthorized immigrants ages 18 to 24 who have graduated from high school, half (49%)are in college or have attended college. The comparable figure for U.S.-born residents is 71%.
* The 2007 median household income of unauthorized immigrants was $36,000, well below the $50,000 median household income for U.S.-born residents. In contrast to other immigrants, undocumented immigrants do not attain markedly higher incomes the longer they live in the United States.
* A third of the children of unauthorized immigrants and a fifth of adult unauthorized immigrants lives in poverty. This is nearly double the poverty rate for children of U.S.-born parents (18%) or for U.S.-born adults (10%).
* More than half of adult unauthorized immigrants (59%) had no health insurance during all of 2007. Among their children, nearly half of those who are unauthorized immigrants (45%) were uninsured and 25% of those who were born in the U.S. were uninsured.

The report, "A Portrait of Unauthorized Immigrants in the United States," authored by Jeffrey S. Passel, senior demographer at the Pew Hispanic Center, and D'Vera Cohn, senior writer at the Pew Research Center, is available at the Pew Hispanic Center's website, www.pewhispanic.org.

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