Study shows California has highest number of immigrants in the US

by Ray Clancy on July 9, 2012

Report describes immigrant workers as backbone of key industries in California

California has the highest rate of immigrants in the United States, accounting for 27% of the state’s population, according to a new research report.

Immigrants to California contribute 34% to the state’s labour force and produce the same percentage of its annual GDP, or more than USD 600 billion, the report from the California Immigrant Policy Centre.

The data says that 9.9 million of the state’s population are immigrants of which 45% are US citizens and they amount to a third of the state’s labour force.

‘The report shows that immigrant workers are the backbone of key industries in California; they are innovators, entrepreneurs, active community members, community leaders,’ said Reshma Shamasunder, executive Director of the California Immigrant Policy Centre.

‘The story of California is one of successes won through hard work, through a knowledge that we are interdependent, diverse, tolerant and that these values help make our state stronger and more unified,’ he added.

Also more than one out of every five with a Bachelor’s degree or higher are working in an unskilled job. Immigrants make up 38% of all residents holding a Ph.D. degree in California.

The report predicts that by 2015 immigrants eligible to naturalize and the already naturalized could represent as much as 35% of California’s electorate.

‘We’re seeing immigrants assume an increasingly critical role in California’s economy. Their substantial contribution as workers and consumers help fuel the state’s economy and is spread throughout many California regions. They also stand out as entrepreneurs and industry leaders,’ said Manuel Pastor, director of USC’s Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration.

The study also reveals that 61% of immigrants aged 16 and above are participating in the labor force, compared to the 57% among non-immigrants. Immigrants are reported to be prominent in the agriculture, manufacturing, and repair and personal service industries.

In Los Angeles County, immigrants make up 35% of the local population. The longer immigrants stay in the region, the more the poverty rate declines and home ownership rises, the study also shows. Some 60% of the immigrants in Los Angeles County are from Latin America while 31% are Asian Americans.

Maria Blanco, vice president of Civic Engagement at California Community Foundation said that report shows there is indisputable evidence that immigrants play an indispensable role in California.

‘As Los Angeles looks towards the future, immigrants will continue to be part of what makes Los Angeles unique nationally and internationally as a beacon of opportunity and success,’ Blanco added.

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