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New Americans in Arizona

Arizona ThumbThe Political and Economic Power of Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians in the Grand Canyon State

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Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians account for large and growing shares of the economy and electorate in Arizona. Immigrants (the foreign-born) make up 13.5% 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 14% of registered voters in Arizona. Moreover, Latinos and Asians (both foreign-born and native-born) wield $47.5 billion in consumer purchasing power, and the businesses they own had sales and receipts of $12.5 billion and employed more than 85,000 people at last count. Immigrant, Latino, and Asian workers, consumers, and entrepreneurs are integral to Arizona’s economy and tax base—and they are an electoral force with which every politician must reckon.  

Immigrants and their children are growing shares of Arizona’s population and electorate.

  • The foreign-born share of Arizona’s population rose from 7.6% in 1990, to 12.8% in 2000, to 13.5% in 2013, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Arizona was home to 896,310 immigrants in 2013, which is more than the population of San Francisco, California.
  • 38% of immigrants (or 342,265 people) in Arizona were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2013—meaning that they are eligible to vote.
  • Unauthorized immigrants comprised roughly 4.6% of the state’s population (or 300,000 people) in 2012, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.
  • 14% (or 393,051) of all registered voters in Arizona 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 that began in 1965—according to an analysis of 2012 Census Bureau data by the American Immigration Council.

One-third of Arizonans are Latino or Asian.

  • The Latino share of Arizona’s population grew from 18.8% in 1990, to 25.3% in 2000, to 30.3% (or 2,005,114 people) in 2013. The Asian share of the population grew from 1.4% in 1990, to 1.8% in 2000, to 2.9% (or 191,718 people) in 2013, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Latinos comprised 16.6% (or 400,000) of Arizona voters in the 2012 elections, and Asians comprised 1.8% (or 43,000), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • In Arizona, 87.3% of children with immigrant parents were U.S. citizens in 2009, according to the Urban Institute.
  • In 2009, 90.5% of children in Asian families in Arizona were U.S. citizens, as were 92.5% of children in Latino families.

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

  • The 2014 purchasing power of Arizona’s Latinos totaled $38.3 billion—an increase of 612% since 1990. Asian buying power totaled $9.2 billion—an increase of 1,145% since 1990, according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Arizona.
  • Immigration boosts housing values in communities. From 2000 to 2010, according to the Americas Society/Council of the Americas, the value added by immigration to the price of the average home was $18,045 in Maricopa County; $3,183 in Pima County; and $2,130 in Pinal County.
  • Arizona’s 52,667 Latino-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $8 billion and employed 54,530 people in 2007, the last year for which data is available. The state’s 16,333 Asian-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $4.5 billion and employed 31,339 people in 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners.
  • From 2006 to 2010, there were 50,706 new immigrant business owners in Arizona who had total net business income of $2.2 billion (14.2% of all net business income in the state), according to Robert Fairlie of the University of California, Santa Cruz.
  • In 2010, 14.8% of all business owners in Arizona were foreign-born, as were 18% of business owners in the Phoenix metropolitan area, according to the Fiscal Policy Institute

Immigrants are integral to Arizona’s economy as workers and taxpayers.

  • Immigrants comprised 17% of the state’s workforce in 2013 (or 523,346 workers), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Immigrants accounted for 15% of total economic output in the Phoenix metropolitan area as of 2007, according to a study by the Fiscal Policy Institute. In fact, “immigrants contribute to the economy in direct relation to their share of the population. The economy of metro areas grows in tandem with the immigrant share of the labor force.”
  • Unauthorized immigrants comprised 6% of the state’s workforce (or 180,000 workers) in 2012, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.
  • Latinos in Arizona paid $4 billion in federal taxes and $2.2 billion in state/local taxes in 2013, according to the Partnership for a New American Economy. In particular, foreign-born Latinos paid $1.2 billion in federal taxes and $822 million in state/local taxes.
    • The federal tax contribution of Arizona’s Latino population included over $3 billion to Social Security and $725 million to Medicare in 2013. Foreign-born Latinos contributed over $1 billion to Social Security and $253.7 million to Medicare that year. 

Unauthorized immigrants pay taxes.

  • Unauthorized immigrants in Arizona paid $374.5 million in state and local taxes in 2010, including $305.9 million in sales taxes, $29.2 million in state income taxes, and $39.4 million in property taxes, according to data from the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy.
  • Were unauthorized immigrants in Arizona to have legal status, they would pay $430.2 million in state and local taxes, including $320.9 million in sales taxes, $67.4 million in state income taxes, and $41.9 million in property taxes.
  • If all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Arizona, the state would lose $48.8 billion in economic activity, decrease total employment by 17.2%, and eliminate 581,000 jobs, according to a study by Dr. Raul Hinojosa-Ojeda and Marshall Fitz. If unauthorized immigrants in Arizona were legalized, it would add 261,000 jobs to the economy, increase labor income by $5.6 billion, and increase tax revenues by $1.7 billion

Immigrants are integral to Arizona’s economy as students. 

  • Arizona’s 15,442 foreign students contributed $442.7 million to the state’s economy in tuition, fees, and living expenses for the 2013-2014 academic year, according to NAFSA: Association of International Educators.
  • Foreign students contribute to Arizona’s metropolitan areas. From 2008 to 2012, according to the Brookings Institution, 9,724 foreign students paid $197 million in tuition and $150 million in living costs in the Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale metropolitan area. In the Tucson metro area, 4,460 foreign students paid $102 million in tuition and $62 million in living costs.
  • Foreign students also contribute to innovation in Arizona. In 2009, “non-resident aliens” comprised 47.9% of master’s degrees and 46.5% of doctorate degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, according to the Partnership for a New American Economy

Naturalized citizens excel educationally. 

  • In Arizona, 25.1% of foreign-born persons who were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2011 had a bachelor’s or higher degree, compared to 14.5% of noncitizens. At the same time, only 23.3% of naturalized citizens lacked a high-school diploma, compared to 49.3% of noncitizens.
  • The number of immigrants in Arizona with a college degree increased by 85.6% between 2000 and 2011, according to data from the Migration Policy Institute.
  • In Arizona, 79.5% 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 Arizona was 91.6%, while for Latino children it was 85.1%, as of 2009. 
Download the Previous Fact Sheets: 20102013
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Published On: Tue, Jan 01, 2013 | Download File