Magazine article Economic Trends

A Look at Ohio's Foreign-Born Population

Magazine article Economic Trends

A Look at Ohio's Foreign-Born Population

Article excerpt

08.06.2012

by Guanyi Yang

The number of immigrants living in the United States has been growing at a faster pace in recent decades. The diversity of countries from which these new residents have emigrated has been increasing as well. I take a closer look at the foreign-born residents of Ohio, to learn where they are from and how they perform in the labor market based on their earnings profile, educational attainment, and career choices.

The proportion of foreign-born residents in Ohio is lower than in the United States as a whole. From 2006 to 2010, for example, foreign-born residents accounted for about 3.8 percent of Ohio's total population and 12.7 percent of the total U.S. population, according to the Census Bureau. In Ohio, Asians represent 37 percent of the total foreign-born population. Dividing Asia into East Asia (China, Japan, Korea, etc.), the Middle East (Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, etc.), Southeast Asia (Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, etc.), and Southwest Asia (India, Pakistan, etc.), I find that Southwest Asia contributes the most of the Asian countries, with 13.3 percent of total immigrants. The second-largest region supplying foreign-born residents to Ohio is Europe, at 27.9 percent, and the third is Latin America, at 21.3 percent.

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The median wage of all employed workers in Ohio in 2009 was $30,000. The difference between those in the 75th percentile and those in the 25th percentile was $37,300, similar to the wage distribution for native-born employed workers. Meanwhile, the median income for all foreign-born employed workers was lower, $26,000, and the earnings gap between the 75th and 25th percentiles was smaller at $36,600.

Among all the regions from which Ohio's foreign-born employed workers emigrated (hereafter "source regions"), Southwest Asia has the highest median earnings at $50,000, and Latin America has the lowest at $18,000. At the same time, workers from Southwest Asia have the largest earnings gap between the 75th percentile and the 25th percentile, $56,000, while those from Latin America have the smallest, $18,000. If we take a closer look at earnings differences by gender, we see that the smallest earnings gap between males and females exists for workers from Latin America, at $1,200, followed by East Asians, at $3,000. The largest gap exists for North Americans, at $30,300, followed by Southwest Asians, at $15,000.

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The foreign-born residents of Ohio are, in general, more educated than the native-born. About 24.6 percent of Ohioans aged 25 and older have a college degree or higher. For foreign-born residents, the share is 39.5 percent, and for the native-born it is 23.8 percent. Southwest Asian immigrants have the highest share of their population with a college degree or higher, at 74.3 percent. On the other end of the spectrum, Latin American immigrants have the highest share of their population with a high school degree or lower, at 68.3 percent, followed by African immigrants at 38 percent. Of the foreign-born, Southwest Asian immigrants have the lowest share at 15.9 percent. Differences in the educational attainment rates of Southwest Asian and Latin American immigrants could partially explain the large median earnings disparities in these two groups.

Among Ohio residents who have a college or a more advanced degree, the share of the population attaining a bachelor's degree and every advanced degree beyond (master's, professional, or doctorate) is higher among the foreign-born population than the native-born. The percentage gap is much larger with the more advanced degrees (professional and doctorate). Asian immigrants have the highest share of the population at every degree level. Although Latin American immigrants have a lower share in most degree levels, the share of their population with professional degrees and doctorates is still higher than that of the native-born. …

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