Stephen Ohlemacher, AP, September 12, 2007
Nearly one in five people living in the United States speaks a language at home other than English, according to new Census data that illustrate the wide-ranging effects of immigration.
The number of immigrants nationwide reached an all-time high of 37.5 million in 2006, affecting incomes and education levels in many cities across the country. But the effects have not been uniform.
In most states, immigrants have added to the number of those lacking a high-school diploma, with almost half of those from Latin America falling into that category.
However, at the other end of the education spectrum, Asian immigrants are raising average education levels in many states, with nearly half of them holding at least a bachelor’s degree.
The data come from the American Community Survey, an annual survey of 3 million households that has replaced the Census Bureau’s long-form questionnaire from the once-a-decade census. It does not distinguish between illegal immigrants and those who are in the U.S. legally.
Mather analyzed the differences in education levels among immigrants from Asia and those from Latin America. Together, the groups account for about 80 percent of all immigrants.
About 48 percent of Asian immigrants held at least a bachelor’s degree, compared with about 11 percent of immigrants from Latin America. Among people born in the U.S., about 27 percent were college graduates.
At the other end of the spectrum, 47 percent of adult immigrants from Latin America lacked a high school diploma, compared with 16 percent of Asian immigrants and 13 percent of people born in the U.S.
Those numbers are fueling overall increases in the number of high-school dropouts in four states: Nevada, Arizona, Colorado and Texas, said William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank.