Black Immigrant Population in U.S. Booms; Spurs Growth in Philadelphia Region

The growth of immigrant populations in the United States shows no signs of slowing anytime soon, particularly among Black immigrants. According to a recent study, one in ten Black people in the United States are immigrants, and the data indicates this number is only expected to grow. 

Growth of Black Immigrants in the United States

According to a recent Pew Research Center analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the University of Minnesota, 4.6 million people in the United States in 2019 were Black immigrants. In this analysis, “immigrant” refers to an individual born in a non-U.S. country, and “Black” refers to an individual who identifies as Black. Approximately 1 in 10 (10%) of Black people in this country are Black immigrants – up from just 3% in 1980. U.S. Census Bureau projections indicate this is likely to more than double by 2060. Accordingly, Black immigrants will account for roughly one-third of the growth in the Black population through 2060. 

This steady growth is largely fueled by migration from Africa from 2000 onward. In 2019, 1.9 million African-born Black people were in the U.S., compared to only approximately 560,000 in 2000. During that span, 43% of all Black immigrants hailed from Africa, compared with 21% from the Caribbean, 18% from Central America, and 24% from South America. In fact, the Black immigrant population growthis projected to outpace the growth of the U.S.-born Black population in the coming decades.

While the number of Black immigrants and the number of U.S.-born Blacks are both trending upward, the immigrant population is anticipated to grow 90% by 2060, as compared to just 29% for Blacks born here.

Black Immigrant Growth in the Philadelphia Region

Like much of the country, Pennsylvania has seen substantial immigrant growth in recent years. According to Census data, the City of Philadelphia saw population growth of less than five percent since the year 2000, with an increase of approximately 66,500 residents. During that same period, the city’s Black immigrant population grew 121%.

The sizeable Black immigrant population in the Philadelphia region has been growing for some time. Currently, the Philadelphia metropolitan area is home to approximately 120,000 Black immigrants. According to a recent article by Axios, refugees comprise a large portion of this population, with Liberian refugees showing notable growth. In fact, Liberians now represent the largest African nationality group in the Philadelphia region, while others include those from Nigeria, Ethiopia, Ghana, Haiti, and Jamaica.

U.S. Census data provides more than just an insight into population trends in the country. Data from the 2020 Census will determine the distribution of hundreds of billions of dollars from the federal government to state and local governments throughout the next decade. These federal dollars will provide for housing, food assistance, education, medical services, and public transportation. 

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National Law Review, Volumess XII, Number 75