A Closer Look

Immigrants and Immigration in US – How many and how have the number changed over time

How many immigrants reside in the United States?

More than 44.5 million immigrants resided in the United States in 2017, the historical high since census records have been kept. One in seven U.S. residents is foreign born, according to 2017 American Community Survey (ACS) data. While immigrants’ current share—13.7 percent—of the overall U.S. population (325.7 million people) has been increasing since the record low marked in 1970, it remains below the historical record of 14.8 percent hit in 1890.

Between 2016 and 2017, the foreign-born population increased by about 787,000, or almost 2 percent—a rate higher than the 1 percent growth experienced between 2015 and 2016, but lower than the 3 percent increase between 2013 and 2014.

How have the number and share of immigrants changed over time?

Data on the nativity of the U.S. population was first collected in the 1850 census. That year, there were 2.2 million immigrants, representing nearly 10 percent of the overall population.

Between 1860 and 1920, the immigrant share fluctuated between 13 percent and almost 15 percent of the overall population, peaking at 14.8 percent in 1890, largely due to high levels of immigration from Europe.

Restrictive immigration laws in 1921 and 1924—which kept the channels to permanent immigration open almost exclusively to northern and western European immigrants—coupled with the Great Depression and World War II, led to a sharp drop in new arrivals from the Eastern Hemisphere. The foreign-born share steadily declined, hitting a record low of 4.7 percent in 1970 (9.6 million; see Figure 1).

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at Frequently Requested Statistics on Immigrants and Immigration in the United States | migrationpolicy.org

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