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New Americans in Rhode Island

Rhode Island 2013The Political and Economic Power of Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians in the Ocean State (Updated May 2014)

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Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians account for growing shares of the economy and electorate in Rhode Island. Roughly 1 in 8 Rhode Islanders are immigrants (foreign-born), and half of them are naturalized U.S. citizens who are eligible to vote. “New Americans”—immigrants and the children of immigrants—account for 13% 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 $3.9 billion in consumer purchasing power, and the businesses they own had sales and receipts of 1 billion and employed more than 5,700 people at last count. At a time when the economy is still recovering, Rhode Island 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 Rhode Island’s population and electorate.

  • The foreign-born share of Rhode Island’s population rose from 9.5% in 1990, to 11.4% in 2000, to 13.5% in 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Rhode Island was home to 141,570 immigrants in 2011, which is more than the entire population of Savannah, Georgia.
  • 50.1% of immigrants (or 70,930 people) in Rhode Island were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2011—meaning that they are eligible to vote.
  • Unauthorized immigrants comprised roughly 3% of the state’s population (or 30,000) in 2010, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.
  • 13% (or 73,808) of registered voters in Rhode Island 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 1 in 6 Rhode Islanders are Latino or Asian.

  • The Latino share of Rhode Island’s population grew from 4.6% in 1990, to 8.7% in 2000, to 12.8% (or 134,714 people) in 2011.  The Asian share of the population grew from 1.8% in 1990, to 2.3% in 2000, to 3.2% (or 33,235 people) in 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Latinos accounted for 3.9% (or 20,000) of Rhode Island voters in the 2008 elections, and Asians 1.8% (9,000), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • In Rhode Island, 91.1% of children with immigrant parents were U.S. citizens in 2009, according to data from the Urban Institute.
  • In 2009, 97.1% of children in Asian families in Rhode Island were U.S. citizens, as were 90.7% of children in Latino families.

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

  • The 2012 purchasing power of Latinos in Rhode Island totaled $2.8 billion—an increase of 593.7% since 1990. Asian buying power totaled $1.1 billion—an increase of 451.5% since 1990, according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia.
  • Rhode Island’s 5,765 Latino-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $460.6 million and employed 1,997 people in 2007, the last year for which data is available. The state’s 1,999 Asian-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $583.9 million and employed 3,729 people in 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners.

Immigrants are essential to Rhode Island’s economy as workers.

  • Immigrants comprised 16% of the state’s workforce in 2011 (or 91,844 workers), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Unauthorized immigrants are integral to Rhode Island’s economy as workers and taxpayers.

  • Unauthorized immigrants comprised roughly 3.7% of the state’s workforce (or 20,000 workers) in 2010, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.
  • If all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Rhode Island, the state would lose $698.0 million in economic activity, $310.0 million in gross state product, and approximately 3,780 jobs, even accounting for adequate market adjustment time, according to a report by the Perryman Group.

Unauthorized immigrants pay taxes. 

  • Unauthorized immigrants in Rhode Island paid $30.4 million in state and local taxes in 2010, including $22.5 million in sales taxes, $5 million in state income taxes, and $2.9 million in property taxes, according to data from the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy. 
  • Were unauthorized immigrants in Rhode Island to have legal status, they would pay $38.4 million in state and local taxes, including $24 million in sales taxes, $11.4 million in state income taxes, and $3 million in property taxes.

Immigrants are integral to Rhode Island’s economy as students.

Naturalized citizens excel educationally.

  • In Rhode Island, 22.6% of foreign-born persons who were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2011 had a bachelor’s or higher degree, compared to 20% of noncitizens. At the same time, only 29.7% of naturalized citizens lacked a high-school diploma, compared to 41.2% of noncitizens.
  • The number of immigrants in Rhode Island with a college degree increased by 65.3% between 2000 and 2011, according to data from the Migration Policy Institute.
  • In Rhode Island, 85.9% 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 Rhode Island was 92.3%, while for Latino children it was 80.3%, as of 2009.

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