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New Americans in Colorado

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

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Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians account for large and growing shares of the economy and electorate in the swing state of Colorado. Nearly 1 in 10 Coloradans is an immigrant (foreign-born), and 1 in 5 is Latino. More than one-third of immigrants in Colorado are naturalized U.S. citizens who are eligible to vote. “New Americans”—immigrants and the children of immigrants—account for 5.9% of all registered voters in the state. Moreover, Latinos and Asians (both foreign-born and native-born) wield $28.4 billion in consumer purchasing power. At last count, businesses owned by Latinos and Asians had sales and receipts of $10 billion and employed more than 65,000 people. Immigrant, Latino, and Asian workers, consumers, and entrepreneurs are integral to Colorado’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 Colorado’s population and electorate.

  • The foreign-born share of Colorado’s population rose from 4.3% in 1990, to 8.6% in 2000, to 9.7% in 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Colorado was home to 494,760 immigrants in 2011, which is more than the total population of Sacramento, California.
  • 35.9% of immigrants (or 177,752 people) in Colorado were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2010—meaning that they are eligible to vote.
  • Unauthorized immigrants comprised 3.6% of the state’s population (or 180,000 people) in 2010, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.
  • 5.9% (or 143,765) of all registered voters in Colorado 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 5 Coloradans are Latino—and they vote.

  • The Latino share of Colorado’s population grew from 12.9% in 1990, to 17.1% in 2000, to 20.9% (or 1.1 million people) in 2011. The Asian share of the population grew from 1.7% in 1990, to 2.2% in 2000, to 2.8% (or 143,760 people) in 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Latinos comprised 8.4% (or 195,000) of Colorado voters in the 2008 elections, and Asians 2.1% (or 48,000), according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The number of Latino and Asian voters exceeds the margin of victory (214,987 votes) by which Barack Obama defeated John McCain.
  • In Colorado, 87% of children with immigrant parents were U.S. citizens in 2009, according to data from the Urban Institute.
  • In 2009, 90.5% of children in Asian families in Colorado were U.S. citizens, as were 92.6% of children in Latino families.

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

  • The 2012 purchasing power of Colorado’s Latinos totaled $21.8 billion—an increase of 454.5% since 1990. Asian buying power totaled $6.6 billion—an increase of 766% since 1990, according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia.
  • Colorado’s 33,762 Latino-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $6.6 billion and employed 37,629 people in 2007, the last year for which data is available. The state’s 14,482 Asian-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $3.4 billion and employed 27,393 people in 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners. 

Immigrants are integral to Colorado’s economy as workers. 

  • Immigrants comprised 11.4% of the state’s workforce in 2011 (or 317,888 workers), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Immigrants accounted for 10% of total economic output in the Denver metropolitan area as of 2007, according to a study by the Fiscal Policy Institute
  • Unauthorized immigrants comprised 4.6% of the state’s workforce (or 120,000 workers) in 2010, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.
  • If all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Colorado, the state would lose $8 billion in economic activity, $3.6 billion in gross state product, and approximately 39,738 jobs, even accounting for adequate market adjustment time, according to a report by the Perryman Group. 

Unauthorized immigrants pay taxes.

  • Unauthorized immigrants in Colorado paid $152.2 million in state and local taxes in 2010, including $108.1 million in sales taxes, $27.1 million in state income taxes, and $17.1 million in property taxes, according to data from the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy.
  • Were unauthorized immigrants in Colorado to have legal status, they would pay $195.2 million in state and local taxes, including $114.7 million in sales taxes, $62.1 million in state income taxes, and $18.4 million in property taxes.

Immigrants are integral to Colorado’s economy as students.

 Naturalized citizens excel educationally. 

  • In Colorado, 34.8% of foreign-born persons who were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2011 had a bachelor’s or higher degree, compared to 19.5% of noncitizens. At the same time, only 18.2% of naturalized citizens lacked a high-school diploma, compared to 45.4% of noncitizens.
  • The number of immigrants in Colorado with a college degree increased by 58.5% between 2000 and 2011, according to data from the Migration Policy Institute.
  • In Colorado, 78.8% 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 Colorado was 88.2%, while for Latino children it was 85.9%, as of 2009.

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