Immigrant Employment by State and Industry

Source: Pew Charitable Trusts, Immigration and the States Project, December 21, 2015

The employment patterns of immigrants differ from those of U.S.-born workers across industries and states. This interactive captures the variation by measuring the employment distribution ratio, which compares the likelihood that an immigrant worker is employed in each of 13 industries with that of an U.S.-born worker in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. In Arizona, for instance, the employment distribution ratio for the administrative services industry is 2.0, meaning that immigrants are twice as likely as U.S.-born individuals to hold a job in this sector.

The interactive tool can also be used to compare the state data with national figures to produce a benchmark. For example, 6 percent of all immigrant workers nationwide hold a job in administrative services, compared with 4 percent of U.S.-born workers, resulting in an employment distribution ratio of 1.7. This means that immigrants are 1.7 times more likely to work in the sector. For additional context, the tool includes each industry’s contribution to a state’s total employment and gross domestic product.
Understanding how workers are distributed across a state’s economy can help inform policymakers’ decisions regarding immigration and employment policies — such as whether to provide workers with skills-based training, set standards for occupational credentials, provide language classes for non-native English speakers, or mandate the use of the federal online employment eligibility verification system E‑Verify — choices that can affect immigrant workers and the industries that employ them. The analysis that is a companion to this interactive provides some additional insight into these findings and their policy implications.