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Study Shows Enormous Growth of Black Immigrant Population in US Over Last 35 Years

jamaica-usa-800x600Compared to the American-born Black population, Black immigrants living in the U.S. are more likely to have a college degree and less likely to live in poverty.

Those are a few of the findings from the Pew Research Center’s recent analysis of Census Bureau data.

The Pew report shows that Black immigrants are steadily changing the makeup of the Black community, now accounting for 8.7 percent of the country’s Black population. That is nearly three times their percentage of the Black population 35 years ago in 1980.

The 3.8 million Black immigrants currently living in the U.S. are the highest number ever. While immigrants from the Caribbean predominate, it is actually African immigrants that is the fastest growing population of Black immigrants.

The number of African immigrants in the U.S. jumped 137 percent between 2000 and 2013, from 574,000 to 1.4 million. As a result, Africans now make up 36 percent of the total foreign-born Black population, up from just 7 percent in 1980. They come mostly from Nigeria (226,000 immigrants) and Ethiopia (191,000).

Half of the foreign-born Black residents are from the Caribbean alone. Jamaica has the largest population, with 682,000 Black immigrants, 18 percent of the total U.S. Black immigrant population. Second is Haiti with 586,000 Black immigrants, 15 percent of the U.S. black immigrant population.

According to Census Bureau projections, by the year 2060 an estimated 16.5 percent of the Black population in the U.S. will be immigrants, nearly double the current percentage.

Though it may tempting to draw some type of conclusions from the income and education comparisons between the American-born and foreign-born Black populations, it should be noted that such direct comparisons are not valid because the immigrant population may not represent a cross-section of a particular country’s population. For example, the immigrants who came to the U.S. may on average be better educated than the people still residing in the country they left behind.
For the purposes of the Pew study, Black immigrants are current U.S. residents born outside the U.S. who indicate that their race is Black or is mixed-race Black, regardless of whether they also claim to be of Hispanic origin.
About 11 percent of the foreign-born Black population identified as Hispanic—with 166,000 from the Dominican Republic, 70,000 from Mexico, 41,000 from Cuba, and 32,000 from Panama.

 While about 19 percent of U.S.-born Black residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher, 26 percent of Black immigrants have a bachelor’s or higher—compared to 28 percent of all U.S. immigrants. In the overall U.S. population, 30 percent of U.S. adults 25 and older have at least a bachelor’s degree.

Among those 25 and older, 50 percent of all Asian immigrants have completed at least a four-year degree, while 11 percent of Hispanic immigrants have done so.

As for advanced degrees, Black immigrants are only slightly behind all Americans—10 percent of Black immigrants have advanced degrees, compared to 11 percent of all Americans.

The median income for foreign-born Black residents is $43,800, which is more than $10,000 higher than the median household income for U.S.-born Black residents of $33,500.

The median income for Hispanic immigrants is $38,000, while it is $70,600 for Asian immigrants.

On the flip side, while 28 percent of U.S.-born Black people live below the poverty line, the equivalent number for Black immigrants is 20 percent. The poverty rate among all Americans is 16 percent.

Where do these Black immigrants tend to live? They are clustered in the Northeast, where 41 percent of them live, and the Southeast, which has another 41 percent.

About one in four Black immigrants—910,000—live in New York state alone. Florida boasts the second-largest foreign-born Black population with 661,000, followed by New Jersey, Maryland and Massachusetts.

Nearly 40 percent of all foreign-born Black Jamaicans live in the New York metro area—about 250,000. About 36 percent of foreign-born Black Haitians, more than 211,000, live in the Miami metropolitan area. About 24 percent of the foreign-born Ethiopians, about 46,000, live in the Washington, D.C., metro area. About 31 percent of the Somalian-born immigrants, about 25,000, live in the Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington metro area of Minnesota and Wisconsin.

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