Beth Werlin, Deputy Legal Director for the American Immigration Council, discusses the recent...
New Americans in Hawaii
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Immigrants, Asians, and Latinos account for growing shares of the economy and electorate in Hawaii. Nearly 1 in 5 residents of Hawaii are immigrants (foreign-born), and more than half of them are naturalized U.S. citizens who are eligible to vote. “New Americans”—immigrants and the children of immigrants—account for 14.4% of registered voters in the state. Immigrants are not only integral to the state’s economy as workers, but also account for billions of dollars in tax revenue and consumer purchasing power. Moreover, Latinos and Asians (both foreign-born and native-born) wield $31 billion in consumer purchasing power, and the businesses they own had sales and receipts of $18.9 billion and employed more than 115,000 people at last count. At a time when the economy is still recovering, Hawaii can ill-afford to alienate such a critical component of its labor force, tax base, and business community.
Immigrants and their children are growing shares of Hawaii’s population and electorate.
- The foreign-born share of Hawaii’s population rose from 14.7% in 1990, to 17.5% in 2000, to 17.9% in 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Hawaii was home to 246,091 immigrants in 2011, which is nearly the total population of Jersey City, New Jersey.
- 55.9% of immigrants (or 137,458 people) in Hawaii were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2011—meaning that they are eligible to vote.
- Unauthorized immigrants comprised roughly 3.1% of the state’s population (or 40,000 workers) in 2010, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.
- 14.4% (or 75,221) of registered voters in Hawaii 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.
Nearly half of all residents of Hawaii are Asian or Latino.
- The Asian share of Hawaii’s population was 38.1% (or 523,824 people) in 2011. The Latino share of the population grew from 7.4% in 1990 to 9.2% (or 126,419 people) in 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
- Asians accounted for 43.5% (or 199,000) of Hawaii voters in the 2008 elections, and Latinos 3.3% (or 15,000) according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
- In Hawaii, 88% of children with immigrant parents were U.S. citizens in 2009, according to data from the Urban Institute.
- In 2009, 94.7% of children in Asian families in Hawaii were U.S. citizens, as were 98.9% of children in Latino families.
Asian and Latino entrepreneurs and consumers add tens of billions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs to Hawaii’s economy.
- The 2012 purchasing power of Asians in Hawaii totaled $27.4 billion—an increase of 124% since 1990. Latino buying power totaled $3.6 billion—an increase of 282% since 1990, according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia.
- Hawaii’s 56,872 Asian-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $18.2 billion and employed 111,924 people in 2007, the last year for which data is available. The state’s 4,374 Latino-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $671.7 million and employed 3,977 people in 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners.
Immigrants are essential to Hawaii’s economy as workers.
- Immigrants comprised 21.3% of the state’s workforce in 2011 (or 153,293 workers), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Unauthorized immigrants are important to Hawaii’s economy as workers and consumers.
- Unauthorized immigrants comprised roughly 4.6% of the state’s workforce (or 30,000 workers) in 2010, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.
- If all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Hawaii, the state would lose $2.0 billion in economic activity, $900.3 million in gross state product, and approximately 8,460 jobs, even accounting for adequate market adjustment time, according to a report by the Perryman Group.
Unauthorized immigrants pay taxes.
- Unauthorized immigrants in Hawaii paid $60.3 million in state and local taxes in 2010, including $41.1 million in sales taxes, $12.9 million in state income taxes, and $6.2 million in property taxes, according to data from the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy.
- Were unauthorized immigrants in Hawaii to have legal status, they would pay $79.6 million in state and local taxes, including $41.6 million in sales taxes, $30.4 million in state income taxes, and $7.5 million in property taxes.
Immigrants are integral to Hawaii’s economy as students.
- Hawaii’s 4,446 foreign students contributed $107.2 million to the state’s economy in tuition, fees, and living expenses for the 2011-2012 academic year, according to NAFSA: Association of International Educators.
Naturalized citizens advance educationally.
- The number of immigrants in Hawaii with a college degree increased by 24.1% between 2000 and 2011, according to data from the Migration Policy Institute.
- In Hawaii, 86% 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 Hawaii was 93.4%, while for Latino children it was 96.3%, as of 2009.
Published On: Fri, Jan 11, 2013 | Download File