Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians account for growing shares of Kentucky‚Äôs economy and population. Immigrants (the foreign-born) make up 3.2% of the state‚Äôs population, and more than one-third of them are naturalized U.S. citizens who are eligible to vote. ‚ÄúNew Americans‚ÄĚ‚ÄĒimmigrants and the children of immigrants‚ÄĒaccount for 1.8% of registered voters in the state. Immigrants are not only important to the state‚Äôs 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 $4.6 billion in consumer purchasing power, and the businesses they own had sales and receipts of over $3 billion and employed more than 23,000 people at last count.
Immigrants and their children are growing shares of Kentucky‚Äôs population and electorate.
‚ÄĘ ¬†The foreign-born share of Kentucky‚Äôs population rose from 0.9% in 1990,1 to 2.0% in 2000,2 to 3.2% in 2010,3 according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Kentucky was home to 140,583 immigrants in 2010, which is more than the total population of Springfield, Illinois.
‚ÄĘ ¬†34.2% of immigrants (or 48,069 people) in Kentucky were naturalized U.S. citizens in 20106‚ÄĒmeaning that they are eligible to vote.
‚ÄĘ ¬†1.8% (or 40,655) of registered voters in Kentucky were ‚ÄúNew Americans‚ÄĚ‚ÄĒnaturalized 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‚ÄĒaccording to an analysis of 2008 Census Bureau data by Rob Paral & Associates.7
Latinos and Asians make up 4.1% of Kentucky‚Äôs population.
‚ÄĘ ¬†The Latino share of Kentucky‚Äôs population grew from 0.6% in 1990,8 to 1.5% in 2000,9 to 3.0% (or 130,388 people) in 2010.10 The Asian share of the population grew from 0.5% in 1990,11 to 0.7% in 2000,12 to 1.1% (or 47,809 people) in 2010,13 according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
‚ÄĘ ¬†In Kentucky, 83.7% of children with immigrant parents were U.S. citizens in 2009, according to data from the Urban Institute.14
‚ÄĘ ¬†In 2009, 81.6% of children in Asian families in Kentucky were U.S. citizens, as were 89.3% of children in Latino families.15
Latino and Asian entrepreneurs and consumers add billions of dollars and thousands of jobs to Kentucky‚Äôs economy.
‚ÄĘ ¬†The 2010 purchasing power of Latinos in Kentucky totaled $2.6 billion‚ÄĒan increase of 1,037.3% since 1990. Asian buying power totaled $2 billion‚ÄĒan increase of 596.9% since 1990, according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia.16
‚ÄĘ ¬†Kentucky‚Äôs 5,559 Asian-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $2.1 billion and employed 16,941 people in 2007, the last year for which data is available.17 The state‚Äôs 3,663 Latino-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $906.9 million and employed 6,705 people in 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau‚Äôs Survey of Business Owners.18
Immigrants contribute to Kentucky‚Äôs economy as workers and taxpayers.
‚ÄĘ ¬†Immigrants comprised 4.4% of the state‚Äôs workforce in 2010 (or 90,831 workers), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.19
‚ÄĘ ¬†Immigrants contributed more than $30 million in state sales and excise taxes to Kentucky in 2000, according a 2002 report by the Legislative Research Commission.20
Unauthorized immigrants contribute to Kentucky‚Äôs economy as workers, consumers, and taxpayers.
‚ÄĘ ¬†Unauthorized immigrants comprised roughly 2.6% of the state‚Äôs workforce (or 55,000 workers) in 2010, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.21
‚ÄĘ ¬†If all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Kentucky, the state would lose $1.7 billion in economic activity, $756.8 million in gross state product, and approximately 12,059 jobs, even accounting for adequate market adjustment time, according to a report by the Perryman Group.22
‚ÄĘ ¬†Unauthorized immigrants in Kentucky paid $85.1 million in state and local taxes in 2010, according to data from the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy,23 which includes:
‚ÄĘ $29.5 million in state income taxes.
‚ÄĘ $5.7 million in property taxes.
‚ÄĘ $49.9 million in sales taxes.
Immigrants contribute to Kentucky‚Äôs economy as students.
Kentucky‚Äôs 4,669 foreign students contributed $97.4 million to the state‚Äôs economy in tuition, fees, and living expenses for the 2009-2010 academic year, according to NAFSA: Association of International Educators.24
Naturalized citizens excel educationally.
In Kentucky, 39.7% of foreign-born persons who were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2009 had a bachelor‚Äôs or higher degree, compared to 25.8% of noncitizens. At the same time, only 14.9% of naturalized citizens lacked a high-school diploma, compared to 33.5% of noncitizens.25
‚ÄĘ ¬†The number of immigrants in Kentucky with a college degree increased by 49% between 2000 and 2009, according to data from the Migration Policy Institute.26
‚ÄĘ ¬†In Kentucky, 80.6% of children with immigrant parents were considered ‚ÄúEnglish proficient‚ÄĚ as of 2009, according to data from the Urban Institute.27
‚ÄĘ ¬†The English proficiency rate among Asian children in Kentucky was 85.3%, while for Latino children it was 82.4%, as of 2009.28