Immigration in Washington State, By The Numbers

The American Immigration Council (AIC) has published statistical reports on the immigration composition of each state, derived from U.S. Census figures. Here are some eye-opening numbers for Washington State and immigration:

  • One in every seven Washington State residents is an immigrant, approximately.
  • Top countries of origin are Mexico (23%), India (8%), China (7%), Philippines (6%) and Vietnam (6%).
  • Nearly half of all Washington State immigrants are naturalized citizens (538,513, as of 2018).
  • More than a third of Washington State immigrants have college diplomas (38%), while 22% have not graduated high school. The rest are in between, in similar proportion.
  • Over 170,000 Washington State residents live with at least one family member who is undocumented. About 240,000 persons are undocumented, making up about 23% of Washington State’s immigrant population.
  • Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) has been granted to 59, 239 Washington residents since 2012. There are 16,200 active recipients currently, according to the report.
  • About one in five Washington State workers is an immigrant. Census figures show 102,277 are in health care and social services; 90,722 in Professional and Technical Services; followed closely by Retail Trade (83,975), Manufacturing (74,952), and accommodations and Food Services (65,721). Immigrants are present and numerous in all sectors in Washington State, with high proportions in agriculture, math and science, health care, and services industries.
  • In 2018, Washington State immigrant households paid $9.8 billion in federal taxes and $3.9 in state and local taxes. Undocumented paid an estimated $678 million in federal taxes and estimated $367 million in local taxes.
  • Washington State has over 80,000 immigrant-owned businesses, accounting for 19% of all self-employed businesses. Immigrants accounted for 31 percent of business ownership in the greater Seattle region.

The AIC reports are available for all 50 states. Overall, the reports show over 14% of U.S. residents are foreign born, and about half of those are naturalized citizens. By the numbers, the reports demonstrate a clear, substantial presence of immigrants in the U.S., on different points along the immigrant spectrum (undocumented to naturalized citizen), making major contributions to the U.S. economy and culture.

Locally, Western Washington University’s Border Policy Research Institute has done fantastic work analyzing border crossing data and trends. The Institute in an international leader in northern cross-border studies, routinely publishing informative reports, and hosting forums on germane topics. The Institute has created a COVID-19 page , which will house data, reports, and essays which relate to cross-border matters and Washington State. Look there for interesting reports in the months to come.

The Institute’s first briefing is entitled “COVID-19 and the U.S.-Canada Border: Retail Destinations for Canadians in Whatcom County.” This report considers the economic impact of the border closure on Whatcom County businesses, which–no surprise–is substantial. Businesses that rely on cross-border trade have suffered terribly in recent months, and this report provides the numbers for the pain. Echoing this, the New York Times recently published a story on the toll the closure has taken on Blaine’s economy.

These numbers show the important role immigration plays in Washington State, for employers, tax revenues, and family unification. Border communities in particular are reliant on transparent and working borders, for business and family well-being.

As always, wishing all well in health and in life as we manage through these difficult times.