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Massachusetts Immigrants by the Numbers Second Edition

Fast Facts, March 2012


      948,061: number of immigrants in Massachusetts

      14.4 percent: immigrant portion of the state’s population

      621,912: number of Massachusetts immigrants in the U.S. 10 or more years

      326,149: number of Massachusetts immigrants in the U.S. fewer than 10 years

      48.9 percent: share of Massachusetts immigrants who are naturalized citizens


Top 10 Cities by Number of Foreign-Born

Chart of top 10 Massachusetts Cities by Foreign-born Population from the study Massachusetts Immigrants by the Numbers: Demographic Characteristics and Economic Footprint, Second Edition

Source: American Community Survey, Five-Year Estimates 2006 – 2010, Table B05002


Region of Birth of Massachusetts Immigrants

Graph of the region of birth of Massachusetts immigrants

Source: 2009 American Community Survey PUMS

Top Ten Countries of Origin of Massachusetts Immigrants

1. Brazil
2. China
3. Dominican Republic
4. Portugal
5. India
6. Haiti
7. Vietnam
8. Canada
9. El Salvador
10. Guatemala
Source: 2009 American Community Survey PUMS


Income and Jobs

$40,851: immigrants’ average per person income vs. $46,277 for the native-born (11.73% less than the native-born)

71.7 percent: share of immigrants participating in the labor force vs. 67.5 percent of the native-born, a significant proportion of the latter being near retirement

50.1 percent: share of Massachusetts immigrants who are in the 18 to 44 age group versus 36.8 percent of natives. This large cohort of immigrants in the working-age category can help replenish the workforce as baby boomers retire and offset the growing “dependency ratio” of supporting the non-working population.


Top Five Occupation Fields for Immigrants

 Immigrants are overrepresented relative to natives at both the high and low ends of the occupational distribution:

            1. Building and ground cleaning and maintenance

            2. Production (workers and supervisors in manufacturing settings)

            3. Life, physical and social sciences

            4. Computer and mathematical

            5. Health care support

Source: American Community Survey, 2009 PUMS


State and Local Taxes


Income Taxes and Number of Filers by Immigration Status

Graph depicting share of taxes paid by Massachusetts immigrants and natives

Source: Author’s tax simulation based on 2009 American Community Survey
and MA Department of Revenue tax data


16.7 percent: share of tax filers from immigrant-headed households while immigrants comprise 14.4 percent of the population

$1.36 billion: amount paid in state income taxes by immigrant-headed tax filers

$1.28 billion: amount paid in local property taxes by immigrant-headed households

$338 million: amount paid in sales and excise taxes by immigrant households or 14.3% of total Massachusetts sales and excise tax receipts


Transfer Payments

Documented adult immigrants must wait five years to be eligible for public assistance.

Undocumented immigrants cannot receive any transfer payments (government benefits including food stamps, unemployment compensation and social security).

11.7 percent: share of total transfer payments received by immigrants


Social Security

Immigrants are large net contributors to Social Security because they are largely of prime working age, and they pay into the system over a long period of time. This includes undocumented immigrants. The Internal Revenue Service estimates that 70-75 percent of the undocumented population pays Social Security taxes that will not be credited toward future benefits. This creates a net addition to the system estimated at $7 billion annually.



9.7 percent: share of prison population who are immigrants, which is significantly less than their share of the total population 18 to 64 years of age (17.7 percent).

Total and Incarcerated Population by Immigration Status

Source: American Community Survey, 2009 PUMS and the Massachusetts Department of Corrections January 1, 2008, Inmate Statistics

As immigrants are less likely to commit crimes, costs related to their incarceration are lower than for the native-born.


Key Tables

PDF Version of Summary

Full report

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