Recently, we have been providing demographic details from 2010 Census data about Missouri’s immigrant residents. This month, we are focusing on earnings data for full-time workers. By offering this data, we hope our readers will be able to make more informed decisions about immigration, especially as it pertains to Missouri’s population.
As stated previously, Missouri’s foreign-born population at 3.9% is much smaller than the national population at almost 14%, but it is growing. In the past decade, immigrant participation in the Missouri workforce grew by 56.4% from 82,910 to 129,693. In all, the immigrant workforce in Missouri increased by approximately 80,000 workers between 1990 and 2010.
According to Census information, Missouri’s immigrants are concentrated at the highest and lowest ends of the earnings spectrum.
A higher percent of individuals earning up to $24,999 annually are immigrants. At the other end, immigrant earnings outstrip those of native-born Americans in the +$75,000 category.
“The concentration at both ends of the earnings spectrum is understandable when you consider who Missouri’s immigrants are,” said Anna Crosslin, President & CEO of the International Institute.
“At the low end, you have large numbers of refugees with disparate skills and little-to-no English who flee from war torn countries around the world. They are joined by agricultural workers and other laborers who survive in a variety of low-paying jobs.”
“At the other end, Missouri boasts a highly-skilled, highly-paid immigrant population, concentrated in math and science fields at research institutions and other centers of innovation,“ Crosslin said. “These immigrants attend our world-renowned colleges and universities and then, at least for the lucky few who can get visas, transition into the private sector as scientists, doctors and engineers.”
Crosslin noted that a higher than average number of immigrants at both ends of the spectrum become entrepreneurs. “Refugees and other lower paid immigrants still find ways to start businesses, especially in services including groceries, restaurants, cleaning and repairs, “ said Crosslin. “Highly skilled immigrants are more likely to found technology and other technical ventures.”
“Immigrants are a tremendous asset to our communities and state at both ends of the labor pool,” Crosslin said. “To flourish, we must welcome more immigrants to help strengthen our businesses and we must find more ways to take advantage of the strong entrepreneurial skills they bring.”
Unless otherwise stated, all data derived from MPI Data Hub, Migration Policy Institute, www.migrationinformation.org, 2011, utilizing data from the 2010 US Census.