Data Snapshot: The Number of Black Immigrants in the US Continues to Rise

by American Immigration Council Staff

By Karen Aho and Quinn Bankson

Black immigrants not only contribute to America’s rich political and cultural history—think rapper Wyclef Jean, U.S. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, or basketball’s Hakeem “The Dream” Olajuwon, to name but a very few—they also play an important and growing role in our economy, making outsize contributions in industries facing critical worker shortages, such as healthcare and transportation.

Fast Growth of the Black Immigrant Population

In one decade, the Black immigrant population increased by a notable 23.5%, from 3.5 million in 2012 to 4.3 million in 2022. While Black immigrants comprise just 1.3% of the total U.S. population, they concentrate in several large states with sizable immigrant populations. Black immigrants are defined as any person who was born outside the United States to non-U.S. citizen parents and who identifies as Black or African American in the American Community Survey.

The Black immigrant population has grown particularly rapidly in Texas, which nearly doubled from 172,000 Black immigrants in 2012 to 309,900 in 2022. However, Black immigrants in the state still comprise a small fraction of the populace—or 1.0% in 2022.

States with Highest Numbers of Black Immigrants

Table with 4 columns and 7 rows.

State

Black Immigrant Population

Total Population

Black Immigrant Share of Population

New York 

760,400 

19.7M 

3.9%

Florida 

716,400 

22.2M 

3.2%

Texas 

309,900 

30.0M 

1.0%

Maryland 

267,300 

6.2M 

4.3%

Georgia 

239,400 

10.9M 

2.2%

New Jersey 

207,500 

9.3M 

2.2%

Massachusetts 

170,600 

7.0M 

2.4%

Source: American Immigration Council analysis of 2022 American Community Survey MicrodataCreated with Datawrapper

Of the country’s 4.3 million Black immigrants, 2.5 million—or 58.6%—are eligible voters. More than 20.3% of these eligible voters live in New York and 17.1% live in Florida, giving them more electoral power in state or local elections. Most of America’s Black immigrants have moved here from the Caribbean and Sub-Saharan Africa, with the greatest numbers hailing from Jamaica and Haiti.

Top Countries of Origin of Black Immigrants

Table with 3 columns and 7 rows.

Country of Birth

Number of Black Immigrants from that Country

Share of Black Immigrants

from that Country

Jamaica 

764,000

17.9%

Haiti

699,800

16.4%

Nigeria 

443,900

10.4%

Ethiopia 

300,100

7.0%

Ghana 

219,200

5.1%

Trinidad and Tobago 

168,900

3.9%

Kenya 

155,100

3.6%

Source: American Immigration Council analysis of 2022 American Community Survey MicrodataCreated with Datawrapper

Employment, Taxes, and Spending Power

In total, more than 2.8 million Black immigrants were in America’s workforce in 2022, supporting several fast-growing industries such as healthcare and transportation.

As American healthcare faces a rising shortage of workers across the industry, Black immigrants are helping to fill the gaps. More than one-quarter of working Black immigrants (26.9%) are employed in the healthcare and social assistance industry. Among healthcare occupations, 138,900 Black immigrants work as registered nurses, 94,300 as personal care aides, and 24,400 as physicians. Despite comprising just 1.3% of the U.S. population, Black immigrants make up 3.3% of the healthcare and social assistance workforce.

Black immigrants also punch well above their weight in transportation and warehousing, where they make up 3.6% of the workforce. More than 101,900 Black immigrants work as truck drivers, another occupation that continues to experience fast growth. Black immigrants also comprise 2.0% of the military workforce.

Top Occupations by Share of Working Black Immigrants in that Occupation

Table with 3 columns and 10 rows.

Occupation

Number of Black Immigrant Workers

Share of Black

Immigrant Workers

Registered Nurses 

138,900

5.0%

Nursing Assistants 

128,600

4.6%

Driver/Sales Workers and Truck Drivers 

101,900

3.6%

Personal Care Aides 

94,300

3.4%

Taxi Drivers 

57,800

2.1%

Home Health Aides 

56,000

2.0%

Customer Service Representatives 

50,400

1.8%

Other Managers 

49,900

1.8%

Janitors and Building Cleaners 

48,300

1.8%

Laborers and Freight, Stock, and Material Movers, Hand 

49,200

1.8%

Source: American Immigration Council analysis of 2022 American Community Survey MicrodataCreated with Datawrapper

While helping to fill critical job shortages, Black immigrant workers are also contributing to the public coffers and supporting local businesses through housing, food, lifestyle, and other expenditures. In 2022, Black immigrants in the United States earned $176.7 billion and paid $28.7 billion in federal taxes and $17.0 billion in state and local taxes, leaving them with $130.9 billion in spending power.

As we honor the struggles and triumphs of all Black Americans throughout history, let us not forget the increasingly vital role played by Black immigrants. With an aging population and rising labor shortages in critical fields, the United States benefits from the outsized contributions these immigrants make.

This post originally appeared on Immigration Impact Reprinted with permission.


About The Author

American Immigration Council Staff Our mission is to shape a rational conversation on immigration and immigrant integration. Through its research and analysis, we provide policymakers, the media, and the general public with accurate information about the role of immigrants and immigration policy on U.S. society. Our reports and materials are widely disseminated and relied upon by press and policy makers. Our staff regularly serves as experts to leaders on Capitol Hill, opinion-makers and the media. Formed in 2003, we are a non-partisan organization that neither supports nor opposes any political party or candidate for office.

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