The Political and Economic Power of Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians in the Badger State
(Updated January 2012)
Immigrants and their children are growing shares of Wisconsin’s population and electorate.
*The foreign-born share of Wisconsin’s population rose from 2.5% in 1990, to 3.6% in 2000, to 4.5% in 2010, according to the U.
S. Census Bureau. Wisconsin was home to 254,920 immigrants in 2010, which is more than the total population of Jersey City,
*40.4% of immigrants (or 103,035 people) in Wisconsin were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2010—meaning that they are eligible
*4.6% (or 142,380) of registered voters in Wisconsin were “New Americans”—naturalized citizens or the U.S.-born children of
immigrants who were raised during the current era of immigration from Latin America and Asia which began in 1965—
according to an analysis of 2008 Census Bureau data by Rob Paral & Associates.
Roughly 1 in 12 Wisconsinites are Latino or Asian—and they vote.
*The Latino share of Wisconsin’s population grew from 1.9% in 1990, to 3.6% in 2000, to 5.9% (or 335,772 people) in 2010.
*The Asian share of the population grew from 1.1% in 1990, to 1.7% in 2000, to 2.3% (or 130,894 people) in 2010, according to
the U.S. Census Bureau.
*Latinos accounted for 2.3% (or 66,000) of Wisconsin voters in the 2008 elections, and Asians 1.1% (31,000), according to the
U.S. Census Bureau.
*In Wisconsin, 88.4% of children with immigrant parents were U.S. citizens in 2009, according to data from the Urban Institute.
*In 2009, 92.7% of children in Asian families in Wisconsin were U.S. citizens, as were 91.4% of children in Latino families.
Latino and Asian entrepreneurs and consumers add billions of dollars and ten of thousands of jobs to Wisconsin’s
*The 2010 purchasing power of Latinos in Wisconsin totaled $6.2 billion—an increase of 691.2% since 1990. Asian buying
power totaled $3.3 billion—an increase of 534% since 1990, according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University
*Wisconsin’s 6,785 Asian-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $2.3 billion and employed 15,808 people in 2007, the
last year for which data is available. The state’s 5,619 Latino-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $2.4 billion and
employed 10,901 people in 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners.
Migrant workers are integral to Wisconsin’s economy as laborers and taxpayers.
*Migrant workers constituted more than 40% of all hired dairy employees (totaling roughly 5,316 individuals) in 2008, according
to a study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
*More than 5,000 migrant workers, plus 1,000 dependents, arrive annually in Wisconsin to work in canning, food-processing,
and agriculture, according to 2003 study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
*Migrant workers’ direct spending generated about $14.9 million per year in income to Wisconsin residents and business,
roughly $8.7 million in tax revenue to state and local governments and the creation of 417 jobs for Wisconsinites annually,
according to the same study.
Immigrants are important to Wisconsin’s economy as workers.
*Immigrants comprised 5.1% of the state’s workforce in 2010 (or 157,379 workers), according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Unauthorized immigrants comprised 2% of the state’s workforce (or 65,000 workers) in 2010, according to a report by the Pew
*If all unauthorized immigrants were removed from Wisconsin, the state would lose $2.6 billion in economic activity, $1.2 billion
in gross state product, and approximately 14,579 jobs, even accounting for adequate market adjustment time, according to a
report by the Perryman Group.
Unauthorized immigrants pay taxes.
*Unauthorized immigrants in Wisconsin paid $94.5 million in state and local taxes in 2010, according to data from the Institute
for Taxation and Economic Policy, which includes:
$21.8 million in state income taxes.
$6.1 million in property taxes.
$66.6 million in sales taxes.
Immigrants are important to Wisconsin’s economy as students.
Wisconsin’s 8,904 foreign students contributed $216.9 million to the state’s economy in tuition, fees, and living expenses for the
2009-2010 academic year, according to the NAFSA: Association of International Educators (NAFSA).
Naturalized citizens advance educationally.
*In Wisconsin, 30.8% of foreign-born persons who were naturalized U.S. citizens in 2009 had a bachelor’s or higher degree,
compared to 23.9% of noncitizens. At the same time, only 22.9% of naturalized citizens lacked a high-school diploma, compared
to 40% of noncitizens.
*The number of immigrants in Wisconsin with a college degree increased by 47.3% between 2000 and 2009, according to data
from the Migration Policy Institute.
*In Wisconsin, 81.3% of children with immigrant parents were considered “English proficient” as of 2009, according to data from
the Urban Institute.
*The English proficiency rate among Asian children in Wisconsin was 82.9%, while for Latino children it was 84.2%, as of 2009.
Published On: Tue, Jan 10, 2012
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