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September 27, 2013

Virginia’s Growing Foreign-Born Workforce

Virginia’s immigrants are increasingly critical to the success of the state’s economy, new Census data shows, something that participants in the 4th Annual Virginia Immigrant Advocates Summit should note when they gather in Annandale next week to discuss immigration reform and other issues critical to this growing community.

When it comes to work, for example, Virginia’s immigrants are highly active. Over 72 percent of foreign-born Virginians age 16 or over either had a job or were actively looking for one in 2012, compared to just under 64 percent of their native-born counterparts. And while immigrants made up just 12 percent of the state’s population in 2012, they made up almost 16 percent of civilian employees, working in all sectors of the economy at rates similar to the state’s native-born population.


Virginia’s immigrant community also has made real progress when it comes to education and median income. Nearly 40 percent of foreign-born Virginians held a bachelor’s degree in 2012, while the rate was just under 35 percent for native-born Virginians. And of all Virginians with a college degree, more foreign-born held advanced degrees.

Immigrant households also had higher median income in 2012 than their native-born neighbors – $66,868, slightly higher than the native-born median household income of $61,210.

As state and federal lawmakers consider policies that affect immigrants, failing to acknowledge the key contributions of Virginia’s immigrants will only keep us from reaching our full economic potential and maximizing the current and future prosperity of all who call the commonwealth home.

–Sara Okos, Policy Director

The Commonwealth Institute

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