Immigrant Share of U.S. Population is Plateauing

A recent analysis of data by the Cato Institute finds that the immigrant share of the U.S. population in 2019 failed to grow for the second straight year, and fell below Census Bureau’s projections.

The immigrant share of the U.S. population stayed steady in 2019 at 13.7%, the same as in 2018, and below the high points reached in 1880 and 1910, when immigrants were 14.8% and 14.7%, respectively, of the U.S. population.

Department of Homeland Security data indicates that the number of new permanent residents dropped by over 150,000 individuals, or nearly 13%, between FY 2016, and FY 2019.   The Cato Institute concludes that

it’s lower legal immigration and more immigrants leaving that is driving the decreases in immigrant population growth in the United States.

In a normal environment, immigration should have increased when unemployment reached historic lows. But the president’s anti‐​immigration policies made that impossible, increasing deportations and imposing many new regulations on legal immigration.

The Cato Institute also analyzed recent global data and found that the U.S.  ranks in the bottom third of wealthy nations for its foreign-born population share, and for the growth in that population during the past three years.

The average wealthy country had a foreign‐​born population share of 30 percent, double the U.S. share. The United States similarly ranked 39th for per‐​capita increase in its foreign‐​born population from 2017 to 2019. Its population grew 0.27 percent from foreigners compared to an average of 1.8 percent for all wealthy countries.

The dramatic drop in refugee resettlement, and the bans on entry of most new immigrants  that have been in place since April 24, 2020 and will remain at least through December 31, 2020, are likely to cause an even steeper decline in new immigrants to the U.S. in FY 2020.

As the nation’s population becomes increasingly aged, with Maine at the unfortunate upper end of that curve, the trend of lower immigration does not bode well for the nation’s, and the state’s, demographic future if it is not reversed.

You can read the Cato Institute‘s analysis here.