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20 States With Highest Migrant Workers in the US

In this article, we will be taking a look at the 20 states with the highest migrant workers in the U.S. To skip our detailed analysis, you can go directly to see the 5 states with the highest migrant workers in the U.S.

Immigration has been a hot topic across the world, especially in advanced economies, for several years now, with fierce debates both in favor and against immigration. Currently, the U.S. is the country with the most number of immigrants in the world by a large distance, and there are over 46 million immigrants in the country, based on data by the Migrant Policy Institute, making up nearly 14% of the total population.

While the U.S. has always been very open to immigrants, led by the states with the highest migrant workers in the U.S., but even then, illegal immigration has still been a huge issue, with over 11.4 million illegal immigrants living here. When Donald Trump became President, immigration became even more of a controversial topic, with Trump actively against immigration, proposing building a wall on its border with Mexico, and even banning immigration from several Muslim-majority countries. Illegal immigrants are accused of benefiting from social security in the country while not paying taxes. A recent viral post on X (formerly known as Twitter), stated that 18 million illegal immigrants aren't paying taxes in the country, focused of course on the states with the most immigrants, and these 18 million also don't pay taxes, rent or mortgage. Firstly, as we've mentioned earlier, the correct figure for illegal immigrants is over 11 million people. Secondly, "unauthorized immigrants pay sales taxes, as does everybody else, and very significant numbers of them also have federal and state tax withholding in their paychecks,” Michelle Mittelstadt, a spokesperson for the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute, said in an email. In 2010, the Social Security Administration estimated that immigrants contribute $12 billion more to the Social Security System than they take out, especially because they don't have access to the same benefits that legal migrants and natural citizens do.

20 States With Highest Migrant Workers in the US
20 States With Highest Migrant Workers in the US

A smiling employee in front of a modern building surrounded by a vibrant cityscape.

Similar debates have raged in Europe too, and things particularly came to a head in 2015, when over 1 million immigrants moved to Europe during the Syrian crisis. Far-right parties in Western Europe have been gaining popular support and traction, with their anti-immigration policies, stating that immigrants fail to integrate into society and adopt Western culture, which while true to an extent, has also faced accusations of xenophobia.

Benefits of immigrants

Having a large number of immigrants in a country can provide a lot of benefits to the nation, which is why inclusion and diversity has become a significant point of focus for many top companies globally. Considering the U.S. immigration statistics by year, around 18.1% of the total U.S. workforce is comprised of immigrants, the highest it has ever been, an increase of 0.7% from 2021, again driven by the states with the highest migrant workers in the U.S. Unemployment rates of the foreign-born has also declined to just 3.4% in 2022, down from 5.6% in 2021. Foreign-born men's participation in the labor force (77.4%) is considerably higher than that of native-born men (66.0%).

An essay by the Organization of Economically Developed Countries considered whether immigration is beneficial for the economy, and concluded that higher immigration improves innovation and stimulate economic growth, and with migrants tending to be of a younger age and more economically active, increased migration also reduces dependency ratios. However, while there is little doubt that GDP increases overall with higher migration, studies and conclusions are much less certain about whether that helps increase or decrease GDP per capita. A study by the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. stated that immigrants play a vital role in providing "essential" labor, especially in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and are also more likely to be entrepreneurs, hence driving economic growth. If we look at U.S. immigration statistics by country, we can see that Mexico tops the list of countries where immigrants come from, and has been so for several decades now. Unsurprisingly, the states with the highest number of immigrants are also among the states with the highest GDP in the country.

Growth of companies employing immigrants

A large number of companies based in the states with the highest migrant numbers in the U.S. are focusing more on foreign-born level. This is especially true for India, which is providing top talent for companies across the world. CEOs of some of the biggest companies in the world such as Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) are Indians, though this has to be balanced with rules many countries have of the number of foreign-born workers that may be hired. This might also help explain why in the last 2.5 years, immigrants working in the U.S. labor market has jumped by 4 million workers, and a higher number of immigrants working in the U.S. may also help with inflationary concerns, according to Apollo's chief economist Torsten Sløk.

Building on the fact that immigrants are more likely to be entrepreneurs, the American Immigration Council confirmed that nearly 44% of Fortune 500 companies were either founded by immigrants or their children. Around 25% of all new firms in the country, including the states with the highest migrant workers in the U.S., are founded by immigrants.

However, some companies also tend to hire immigrants because they have lower negotiating power, and often immigrants rely on their employers for green cards, because of which they're less likely to leave employment. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), the most valuable company in the world, was recently fined $25 million by the Department of Justice for illegally favoring immigrant workers over U.S. citizens, with Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) accepting the charge and stating that it unintentionally didn't follow the DOJ standard. Despite this setback, overall, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has seen its share price increase by nearly 50% YTD 2023.

Here is what Baron Technology Fund has to say about Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) in its Q3 2023 investor letter:

“After a strong start to the year, shares of Apple Inc. partially retraced their gains this quarter. Mixed second calendar quarter financial results, with iPhone, iPad, and Wearables revenue coming in just shy of consensus expectations, coupled with elevated investor concerns about the macro economy and potential weakness in consumer spending later this year, pressured shares. Despite these quarterly fluctuations in product sales, we are encouraged by several long-term trends, including: (1) revenue from higher-margin services like the App Store, iCloud, and Apple Pay, which are growing faster than the overall business, driving better revenue visibility and higher free-cash-flow (FCF) margins; (2) continued gains in global market share in smartphones, wearables, and other hardware categories; and (3) consistent returns of capital to shareholders via share repurchases and dividends. On top of these trends in the core business, Apple is thoughtfully investing in new categories like augmented reality, search, financial services, and streaming media content. We took advantage of weakness in the quarter to add to our position in Apple.”


To determine the states with the highest migrant workers in the U.S., we first determined the number of migrant workers and percentage of total workers for each state. We then assigned 30% weightage to the number of workers in each state, and 70% weightage to immigrants as a percentage of total workers in the state.

20. Minnesota

Total number of foreign-born workers: 487,445

Percentage of foreign-born workers: 8.50%

Many migrant workers travel to Minnesota on a seasonal basis every year to help with cultivating and harvesting crops in the state.

19. North Carolina

Total number of foreign-born workers: 869,786

Percentage of foreign-born workers: 8.20%

Nearly 70% of North Carolina's immigrants are employed, and as a percentage of total workforce, the agriculture and construction industry employ the most migrants.

18. Rhode Island

Total number of foreign-born workers: 159,304

Percentage of foreign-born workers: 14.50%

Immigrants are an integral part of Rhode Island's workforce, with most immigrant workers being employed in the healthcare, manufacturing and educational services industries.

17. Oregon

Total number of foreign-born workers: 412,396

Percentage of foreign-born workers: 9.70%

While Oregon has some of the highest migrants of any states in the U.S., migrant workers employed in the illegal pot farms in the state face abuse by the cartels that run these farms.

16. Colorado

Total number of foreign-born workers: 570,273

Percentage of foreign-born workers: 9.70%

Recently, Colorado Senator Hickenlooper introduced a bill attempting to bring more migrant workers to the state, with the construction and hospitality industry accounting for most of the immigrant workers.

15. Georgia

Total number of foreign-born workers: 1,082,965

Percentage of foreign-born workers: 10%

While Georgia is among the states with the highest migrant workers in the U.S., it also has the third-highest detained immigration population in the country.

14. Arizona

Total number of foreign-born workers: 915,934

Percentage of foreign-born workers: 12.60%

Clean energy and semiconductor companies have been petitioning for easing immigration rules to facilitate migrant worker hiring. In Arizona, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, one of the largest semiconductor companies by market cap, is building a facility in Phoenix, Arizona.

13. Virginia

Total number of foreign-born workers: 1,070,347

Percentage of foreign-born workers: 12.40%

In Virginia, over 100,000 migrant workers worked in farms during the pandemic to plant and harvest crops. Virginia's agriculture business contributes over $70 billion to the economy and nearly three-quarters of agriculture workers are immigrants.

12. Connecticut

Total number of foreign-born workers: 549,441

Percentage of foreign-born workers: 15.20%

In the last four years, Connecticut's foreign-born workers population increased from nearly 350,000 to around 550,000 in 2022. Healthcare and manufacturing are the industries in the state which employ the most immigrants.

11. Hawaii

Total number of foreign-born workers: 270,345

Percentage of foreign-born workers: 18.80%

The 2023 Hawaii wildfires resulted in massive destruction and have had an especially negative impact on immigrant workers in the state as jobs are few and far in-between, and their lives are currently in limbo.

10. Illinois

Total number of foreign-born workers: 1,804,562

Percentage of foreign-born workers: 14.20%

Illinois has a healthy percentage of foreign-born workers, but is still in need of more immigrant workers, as it becomes one of the states petitioning the Biden administration to allow them to issue work permits to more undocumented workers.

9. Washington

Total number of foreign-born workers: 1,143,311

Percentage of foreign-born workers: 14.80%

With over a million foreign-born workers, Washington has one of the highest migrant workers by state.

8. Maryland

Total number of foreign-born workers: 979,051

Percentage of foreign-born workers: 15.90%

Maryland created a Skilled Immigration Task Force, which spreads the benefits of companies hiring foreign-trained professionals for their businesses. However, the immigrant worker population is still considered to be underpaid in the state, something that is generally true on a national level.

7. Nevada

Total number of foreign-born workers: 579,692

Percentage of foreign-born workers: 18.40%

Nevada has more than half a million immigrant workers, and half of all immigrants in the state have become naturalized U.S. citizens.

6. Massachusetts

Total number of foreign-born workers: 1,227,488

Percentage of foreign-born workers: 17.60%

Massachusetts is among the states with the highest migrant workers in the U.S., but is still facing a labor shortage and a migrant crisis, as citizens from volatile countries such as Venezuela and Haiti are fleeing to the state.

Click to continue reading and see the 5 States with the Highest Migrant Workers in the U.S.

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Disclosure: None. 20 states with the highest migrant workers in the U.S. is originally published at Insider Monkey.