New Americans in the Garden State

The Political and Economic Power of Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians in New Jersey.

Immigrants and their children are growing shares of New Jersey’s population and electorate.

  • The foreign-born share of New Jersey’s population rose from 12.5% in 1990, to 17.5% in 2000, to 19.9% in 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.  New Jersey was home to 1,731,202 immigrants in 2007, which is more than the population of Phoenix, Arizona.
  • 51.2% of immigrants (or 886,921 people) in New Jersey were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2007—meaning that they are eligible to vote.
  • 15.1% (or 526,565) of registered voters in New Jersey were “New Americans”—naturalized citizens or the U.S.-born children of immigrants who were raised during the current era of immigration from Latin America and Asia which began in 1965—according to an analysis of 2006 Census Bureau data by Rob Paral & Associates.

 Nearly 1 in 4 New Jerseyans are Latino or Asian.

  • The Latino share of New Jersey’s population grew from 9.6% in 1990, to 13.3% in 2000, to 15.9% (or 1,381,061 people) in 2007.  The Asian share of the population grew from 3.5%  in 1990, to 5.7% in 2000, to 7.5% (or 651,444 people) in 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Latinos comprised 9.3% (or 337,000) of New Jersey voters in the 2008 elections, and Asians 5.9% (or 215,000), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.  The number of Latino and Asian voters in New Jersey is equivalent to more than 90% of Barack Obama’s margin of victory (602,215 votes) over John McCain.

 Latino and Asian entrepreneurs and consumers add billions of dollars and tens-of-thousands of jobs to New Jersey’s economy.

  • The 2008 purchasing power of New Jersey’s Latinos totaled $35.6 billion—an increase of 294.2% since 1990.  Asian buying power totaled $31.7 billion—an increase of 460.2% since 1990, according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia.
  • New Jersey’s 51,957 Asian-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $18.5 billion and employed 85,171 people in 2002, the last year for which data is available.  The state’s 49,841 Latino-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $7.2 billion and employed 40,422 people in 2002, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners.

Immigrants are integral to New Jersey’s economy as workers.

  • Immigrants comprised 25.3% of the state’s workforce in 2007 (or 1,146,425 workers), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Immigrant workers contributed at least $47 billion to New Jersey’s Gross Domestic Product (G.D.P.) in 2006, representing almost one-quarter (23%) of all earnings statewide, according to a study at the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University.
  • More than 40% of the state’s scientists and engineers with advanced degrees were foreign-born in 2006, according to the same study.
  • Immigration to New Jersey raised the wages of native-born workers without a high-school diploma by 3.0% between 1990 and 2000, according to the same study.
  • Unauthorized immigrants comprised 9.2% of the state’s workforce (or 425,000 workers) in 2008, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.
  • If all unauthorized immigrants were removed from New Jersey, the state would lose $24.2 billion in expenditures, $10.7 billion in economic output, and approximately 103,898 jobs, even accounting for adequate market adjustment time, according to a report by the Perryman Group.

 Naturalized Citizens Excel Educationally.

  • In New Jersey, 39% of foreign-born persons who were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2007 had a bachelor’s or higher degree, compared to 31.7% of noncitizens.  At the same time, only 16.6% of naturalized citizens lacked a high-school diploma, compared to 25.5% of noncitizens.
  • The number of immigrants in New Jersey with a college degree increased by 42.8% between 2000 and 2007, according to data from the Migration Policy Institute.
  • 35.7% of New Jersey’s foreign-born population age 25 and older had a bachelor’s or higher degree in 2007, compared to 33.2% of native-born persons age 25 and older.
  •  In New Jersey, 83.2% of all children between the ages of 5 and 17 in families that spoke a language other than English at home also spoke English “very well” as of 2007.