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April 25, 2013

Immigrants make up a growing segment of Virginia’s population. With comprehensive immigration reform now working its way through Congress, we analyzed demographic and economic information about foreign-born communities in Virginia’s 11 congressional districts and created profiles presenting our key findings for each district. You can find them here.

In our analysis, “foreign-born” refers to legal permanent residents, temporary migrants, refugees, and unauthorized immigrants. Looking across these profiles, here’s what we found:

  • Virginia is home to a substantial and expanding immigrant population. The state has the ninth-largest immigrant population in the U.S., with 11 percent of the state’s population being foreign-born. Immigrants comprise from 2.4 percent of the population in southwest Virginia’s 11th Congressional District to over 20 percent in northern Virginia’s 8th, 10th, and 11th Districts.
  • At the same time that the overall foreign-born population increased in Virginia, the population of unauthorized immigrants has declined significantly, to 210,000 in 2010 from 325,000 in 2007, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.
  • A major share of the state’s workforce is foreign-born. Generally, the share of adults working or looking for work is higher among the foreign-born than among all adults. This is due in part to the foreign-born population tending to have a much higher share of people between the prime working ages of 25 and 64. Non-citizens (a subgroup of the foreign-born that excludes naturalized citizens) are more likely to be in low-wage service and construction occupations, compared to U.S.-born citizens.
  • Business ownership is widespread. In many districts, the share of foreign-born residents who are self-employed in unincorporated businesses (such as sole proprietorships) is higher than among U.S.-born citizens.
The Commonwealth Institute

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