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New Americans in Arkansas

Arkansas ThumbThe Political and Economic Power of Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians in the Natural State (Updated May 2014)

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Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians account for large and growing shares of the economy and population in Arkansas. Immigrants (the foreign-born) make up 4.4% of the state’s population, and more than one-quarter of them are naturalized U.S. citizens who are eligible to vote. Immigrants account for 5.8% of Arkansas workers and added nearly $3 billion to the state’s economy in 2004. Moreover, Latinos and Asians (both foreign-born and native-born) wield roughly $5.1 billion in consumer purchasing power, and the businesses they own had sales and receipts of $1.7 billion and employed more than 11,000 people at last count. At a time when the economy is still recovering, Arkansas can ill-afford to alienate such an important component of its labor force, tax base, and business community.

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

  • The foreign-born share of Arkansas’s population rose from 1.1% in 1990, to 2.8% in 2000, to 4.4% in 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Arkansas was home to 128,809 immigrants in 2011, which is greater than the population of Springfield, Illinois.
  • 28.2% of immigrants (or 36,376 people) in Arkansas were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2011—meaning that they are eligible to vote.
  • Unauthorized immigrants comprised 1.8% of the state’s population (or 55,000 people) in 2010, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.
  • Arkansas had the fastest-growing Latino population of any state in the nation between 2000 and 2005, and the fourth-fastest-growing immigrant population, according to a study by the Urban Institute.

More than 7% of Arkansans are Latino or Asian.

  • The Latino share of Arkansas’s population grew from 0.8% in 1990, to 3.2% in 2000, to 6.5% (or 190,047 people) in 2011. The Asian share of the population grew from 0.5% in 1990, to 0.8% in 2000, to 1.2% (or 34,342 people) in 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • In Arkansas, 88.2% of children with immigrant parents were U.S. citizens in 2009, according to data from the Urban Institute.
  • In 2009, 91.5% of children in Asian families in Arkansas were U.S. citizens, as were 89.5% of children in Latino families.

Immigrant, Latino, and Asian entrepreneurs, consumers, and taxpayers add billions of dollars and thousands of jobs to Arkansas’s economy.

  • Spending by immigrants generated $2.9 billion in Arkansas business revenues in 2004, according to a study by the Urban Institute.
  • Immigrants (and their U.S.-born children) paid $19 million more in taxes than they consumed in education, health services, and corrections, according to the same study.
  • Households headed by unauthorized immigrants in Arkansas paid $73.3 million in state and local taxes in 2010, according to data from the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy, which includes:
    • $11.0 million in state income taxes.
    • $3.0 million in property taxes.
    • $59.4 million in sales taxes.
  • The 2012 purchasing power of Arkansas’s Latinos totaled $3.4 billion—an increase of 1,998.2% since 1990. Asian buying power totaled $1.7 billion—an increase of 1,031.8% since 1990, according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia.
  • Arkansas’s 5,436 Latino-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $821 million and employed 4,269 people in 2007, the last year for which data is available. The state’s 3,322 Asian-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $855.7 million and employed 7,285 people in 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners.

Immigrants are integral to Arkansas’s economy as workers.

  • Immigrants comprised 5.8% of the state’s workforce in 2011 (or 79,791 workers), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Without immigrant workers, the state’s manufacturing industry output would be lowered by about $1.4 billion—or about 8 percent of the industry’s $16.2 billion total contribution to the gross state product in 2004, according to a study by the Urban Institute.
  • Unauthorized immigrants comprised 3.0% of the state’s workforce (or 40,000 workers) in 2010, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.
  • If all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Arkansas, the state would lose $798 million in economic activity, $354 million in gross state product, and approximately 6,660 jobs, even accounting for adequate market adjustment time, according to a report by the Perryman Group.

Unauthorized immigrants pay taxes.

  • Unauthorized immigrants in Arkansas paid $72.4 million in state and local taxes in 2010, including $58.5 million in sales taxes, $9.4 million in state income taxes, and $4.5 million in property taxes, according to data from the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy.
  • Were unauthorized immigrants in Arkansas to have legal status, they would pay $88.9 million in state and local taxes, including $61.7 million in sales taxes, $22.3 million in state income taxes, and $4.9 million in property taxes.

Immigrants contribute to Arkansas’s economy as students.

Naturalized citizens excel educationally.

  • In Arkansas, 23.7% of foreign-born persons who were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2011 had a bachelor’s or higher degree, compared to 16.4% of noncitizens. At the same time, only 30.9% of naturalized citizens lacked a high-school diploma, compared to 50.5% of noncitizens. 
  • The number of immigrants in Arkansas with a college degree increased by 88.2% between 2000 and 2011, according to data from the Migration Policy Institute.
  • In Arkansas, 79.6% of children with immigrant parents were considered “English proficient” as of 2009.
  • The English proficiency rate among Asian children in Arkansas was 87.4%, while for Latino children it was 80.5%, as of 2009. 

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