December 08, 2000

A new report from the Commerce Department's Census Bureau estimates that the nation's foreign-born population in 2000 was 28.4 million about 1 in 10 U.S. residents.

The estimates contained in the report, The Foreign-Born Population in the United States: March 2000, should not be confused with Census 2000 results, which are scheduled for release over the next three years.

"About 10 percent of the nation's population was foreign-born in 2000," said Lisa Lollock, the report author. "This proportion is between the high figure of 15 percent reached during a period of heavy immigration from Europe in 1890 and the low of 5 percent in 1970."

The report said one-third of the foreign-born population was from Mexico or another Central American country and about one-fourth, from Asia.

Other highlights from the report:

-- The foreign-born population are more likely than natives to live in the West and the Northeast. More than 6 in 10 of the foreign-born population reside in one of these two regions, compared with less than 4 in 10 natives.

-- Almost half of the foreign-born population lived in the central city of a metropolitan area (45 percent) compared with slightly more than one-quarter of the native population (28 percent). Only 5 percent of the foreign-born population lived outside metro areas, compared with 21 percent of natives.

-- While foreign-born residents age 25 and over were as likely as natives to be college graduates (26 percent each), they lagged at lower educational levels, as 67 percent of the foreign-born population and 87 percent of natives were high school graduates. Thirty-six percent of full-time, year-round workers born outside the United States earned less than $20,000 in 1999; this compares with 21 percent of their native counterparts who were at that level.

-- Foreign-born people were more likely than natives to be 18 to 64 years of age (8 in 10 compared with 6 in 10).

-- Thirty-seven percent of the nation's foreign-born residents were naturalized citizens. Less than 1 in 10 of the foreign-born people who entered the United States in the 1990s had become citizens, compared with 8 in 10 who arrived before 1970.

The report, a slide presentation, an interactive quiz and 60 statistical tables update the 1999 report on the foreign-born population issued last September. The statistics were collected in the March 2000 Current Population Survey, which uses the 1990 census as a base for its sample.

The report contains data on characteristics of the foreign-born population such as region of birth, geographic distribution in the United States, age, citizenship, household size, marital status, educational level, employment status, occupation, earnings and poverty status. Comparisons are made between the foreign-born and the native populations,
as well as among the foreign-born population by region of birth, citizenship and year of entry.

Survey data are subject to sampling and nonsampling error.

Foreign-Born Population and Percent of Total Population for the United States: 1890 to 2000


Number (in millions)

2000 - 28.4
1990 - 19.8
1970 - 9.6
1950 - 10.3
1930 - 14.2
1910 - 13.5
1890 - 9.2


Percent of total

2000 - 10.4
1990 - 7.9
1970 - 4.7
1950 - 6.9
1930 - 11.6
1910 - 14.7
1890 - 14.8

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

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