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New Americans in Washington

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

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Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians account for growing shares of the economy and electorate in Washington. Immigrants (the foreign-born) make up 1 in 8 Washingtonians, and 45.9% of them are naturalized U.S. citizens who are eligible to vote. “New Americans”—immigrants and the children of immigrants—account for 9.4% 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 $42.2 billion in consumer purchasing power, and the businesses they own had sales and receipts of $22 billion and employed more than 94,000 people at last count. At a time when the economy is still recovering, Washington 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 Washington’s population and electorate.

  • The foreign-born share of Washington’s population rose from 6.6% in 1990, to 10.4% in 2000, to 13.3% in 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Washington was home to 909,312 immigrants in 2011, which is more than the total population of Jacksonville, Florida.
  • 45.9% of immigrants (or 417,019 people) in Washington were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2011—meaning that they are eligible to vote.
  • Unauthorized immigrants comprised roughly 3.4% of the state’s population (or 230,000 people) in 2010, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.
  • 9.4% (or 310,067) of registered voters in Washington 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 5 Washingtonians are Latino or Asian—and they vote.

  • The Latino share of Washington’s population grew from 4.4% in 1990, to 7.5% in 2000, to 11.6% (or 789,060 people) in 2011. The Asian share of the population grew from 4.0% in 1990, to 5.5% in 2000, to 7.3% (or 501,712 people) in 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Latinos accounted for 4.8% (or 148,000) of Washington voters in the 2008 elections, and Asians 4.3% (132,000), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • In Washington, 86.5% of children with immigrant parents were U.S. citizens in 2009, according to data from the Urban Institute.
  • In 2009, 89.8% of children in Asian families in Washington were U.S. citizens, as were 92% of children in Latino families.

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

  • The 2012 purchasing power of Asians in Washington totaled $24.7 billion—an increase of 734% since 1990. Latino buying power totaled $17.5 billion—an increase of 764% since 1990, according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia.
  • Washington’s 37,373 Asian-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $12.3 billion and employed 71,421 people in 2007, the last year for which data is available. The state’s 17,795 Latino-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $9.7 billion and employed 23,051 people in 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners.

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

  • Immigrants comprised 16.2% of the state’s workforce in 2011 (or 572,207 workers), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Immigrants contributed $1.5 billion in tax revenue to the Washington state economy in 2007, accounting for 13.2% of all taxes paid in the state, according to a 2009 study by OneAmerica.
  • Immigrants accounted for 16% of total economic output in the Seattle metropolitan area as of 2007, according to a study by the Fiscal Policy Institute.
  • Unauthorized immigrants comprised roughly 5.1% of the state’s workforce (or 190,000 workers) in 2010, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.
  • If all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Washington, the state would lose $14.5 billion in economic activity, $6.4 billion in gross state product, and approximately 71,197 jobs, even accounting for adequate market adjustment time, according to a report by the Perryman Group.

Unauthorized immigrants pay taxes. 

  • Unauthorized immigrants in Washington paid $292.1 million in state and local taxes in 2010, including $270.8 million in sales taxes and $21.3 million in property taxes, according to data from the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy. 
  • Were unauthorized immigrants in Washington to have legal status, they would pay $312.3 million in state and local taxes, including $289.6 million in sales taxes and $22.7 million in property taxes.

Immigrants are integral to Washington’s economy as students.

  • Washington’s 20,198 foreign students contributed $533.8 million to the state’s economy in tuition, fees, and living expenses for the 2011-2012 academic year, according to the NAFSA: Association of International Educators (NAFSA).

Naturalized citizens excel educationally.

  • In Washington, 33.4% of foreign-born persons who were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2011 had a bachelor’s or higher degree, compared to 26.3% of noncitizens. At the same time, only 18.2% of naturalized citizens lacked a high-school diploma, compared to 35.6% of noncitizens.
  • The number of immigrants in Washington with a college degree increased by 78.3% between 2000 and 2011, according to data from the Migration Policy Institute.
  • In Washington, 79.8% 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 Washington was 87.9%, while for Latino children it was 79.2%, as of 2009.

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