Unauthorized Immigrant Population Stabilizes

February 14, 2011

pew-illegal-immigrant-feb-2011.jpgAs of March 2010, 11.2 million unauthorized immigrants were living in the US, virtually unchanged from a year earlier, according to new estimates from the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center. This stability in 2010 follows a two-year 7.5% decline from the peak of 12 million in 2007 to 11.1 million in 2009 that was the first significant reversal in a two-decade pattern of growth.

Unauthorized Immigrant Trends Vary by State

pew-states-changes-feb-2011.jpgPew data shows the decline in the population of unauthorized immigrants since 2007 has been especially marked in some states that recently had attracted large numbers of unauthorized immigrants. The number has decreased in Colorado, Florida, New York and Virginia. The combined unauthorized immigrant population of three contiguous Mountain West states, Arizona, Nevada and Utah, also declined.

The number of unauthorized immigrants may have declined in other states as well, but Pew says this cannot be stated conclusively because the measured change was within the margin of error for these estimates.

In contrast with the national trend, the number of unauthorized immigrants has grown in some West South Central states. From 2007 to 2010, there was a statistically significant increase in the combined unauthorized immigrant population of Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas. The change was not statistically significant for these states individually, but it was for the combined three states. Texas has the second largest number of unauthorized immigrants, trailing only California.

Unauthorized Represent 4% of Population

According to the Pew Hispanic Center, unauthorized immigrants made up 3.7% of the nation’s population and 5.2% of its labor force in March 2010. Births to unauthorized immigrant parents accounted for 8% of newborns from March 2009 to March 2010, according to the center’s estimates, which are based mainly on data from the government’s Current Population Survey.

Unauthorized Population Triples in 2 Decades

Despite the recent decline and leveling off, historical Pew data shows the number of unauthorized immigrants living in the US has tripled since 1990, when it was 3.5 million. The size of this population grew by a third since 2000, when it was 8.4 million.

Unauthorized Worker Population Also Steadies

The number of unauthorized immigrants in the nation’s workforce, 8 million in March 2010, also did not differ from the Pew Hispanic Center estimate for 2009. As with the population total, the number of unauthorized immigrants in the labor force had decreased about 5% in 2009, from its peak of 8.4 million in 2007.

Number of Unauthorized Immigrant Children Remains Flat

Pew analysis indicates the number of children born to at least one unauthorized-immigrant parent in 2009 was 350,000, essentially the same as it was a year earlier. An analysis of the year of entry of unauthorized-immigrant parents indicates that 61% arrived before 2004, 30% arrived from 2004 to 2007, and 9% arrived from 2008 to 2010.

Foreign-born US Residents Gain Jobs

Foreign-born US residents gained jobs from Q2 2009 to Q2 2010 while native-born residents lost jobs, according to a recent analysis of US Census Bureau and Department of Labor data by the Pew Hispanic Center.

Between Q2 2009 and Q2 2010, foreign-born workers gained 656,000 jobs while native-born workers lost 1.2 million. As a result, the unemployment rate for immigrant workers fell 0.6 percentage points during this period (from 9.3% to 8.7%), while for native-born workers it rose 0.5 percentage points (from 9.2% to 9.7%).


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