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Immigrants slow population decline in many counties

A recently released Pew study finds that immigrants are offsetting population decline throughout the United States. While 3 out of 4 immigrants live in California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, or Texas, the largest growth in the immigrant population has been in states like North Carolina and Washington. Pew notes that the foreign born population of Mecklenburg County, where Raleigh is located, has increased from 4% in 1990 to 17% in 2012. In Washington state, immigrants make up 24% of King county, where Seattle is, and 34% in Adams county in the central part of the state. Meanwhile, nationwide, the growth in the immigrant population accounted for 91% of the country’s growth between 1990 and 2012. Most remarkably, though, was the growth in the foreign born population in the middle part of the United States, where “many counties experienced native-born population loss and foreign-born gain. Many of these counties still experienced an overall loss of people, but the population would have declined even more if not for an influx of immigrants."

The growth of the immigrant population in Middle America is important because population decline can have serious economic consequences on a region. Demand for housing and services decline and the region enters an economic tailspin, with more people leaving. However, immigrants moving in can revive the region, creating demand and jobs and bringing the area back to life.

The Pew Charitable Trust. “Changing Patterns in U.S. Immigration and Population: Immigrants slow population decline in many counties”. December 18, 2014.

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