U.Va. study finds one in nine Virginians foreign-born
Immigrant population highest in Northern Virginia
Sixty-eight percent of all foreign-borns living in Virginia are living in Northern Virginia, now accounting for 23 percent of Northern Virginia’s population.
The University’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service reported the population of foreign-borns in Virginia is rising — and not by a small margin — in a brief released this week.
In 1970, the census showed only one in 100 Virginians were born outside the United States. Now, that number is one in nine.
“A couple of findings were [the population of] foreign-borns is continuing to grow [in size], and their share in the population is rising,” said Shonel Sen, the researcher at the Weldon Center who composed the brief. “This number has been increasing quite steadily over time.”
Though Sen said she did not pursue a “causal analysis” to explain the growth, she speculated increased economic opportunity may play a large role.
“There are job opportunities [in Virginia] which would influence the reasons why people would move there,” she said.
The brief echoed this theory, noting 25-44 represents the “golden age for participating in the workforce” and the largest age demographic of foreign-borns is also 25 to 44-year-olds. Thus, “prosperous employment likely explains the growing presence of immigrants in Virginia,” Sen said.
Immigrant populations are largely concentrated in Northern Virginia, where the unemployment rate tends to run less than 5 percent. Sixty-eight percent of all foreign-borns living in Virginia are living in Northern Virginia, now accounting for 23 percent of Northern Virginia’s population.
Additionally, the study showed a larger percentage of foreign-born immigrants are working than natives, though the difference is relatively small. The Center found 65 percent of native Virginians are part of the labor force compared to 73 percent of foreign-born immigrants.
Virginia’s foreign-born population hails from across the globe, with the largest groups coming from El Salvador, India, Mexico, Philippines and Korea.