Five Fast Facts About Being a Black Expat in America

By January 4, 2021 April 12th, 2023 uLink Blog
Black expat family in America with two kids

Black expats are a driving force of America’s past, present, and future. 

While the U.S. immigration conversation typically focuses on the Latinx community, black immigrants have largely remained out of the spotlight. 

Thanks to exciting new research, however, black immigrants are finally getting the recognition they deserve. 

Here are Five Fast Facts About Being a Black Expat in America:

Nearly 10 Percent of Blacks in the U.S. Are Expats

Since 1980, the black immigrant population has increased over 500 percent. Whereas black immigrants accounted for 816,000 people in 1980, they are over 4.2 million strong today. 

Though Jamaica and Haiti account for the largest number of expats, over 43 percent of black immigrants hail from Nigeria and Ethiopia. 

According to American Progress, black immigrants constitute nearly 9 percent of all immigrants in the country. And by 2060, the U.S. Census Bureau predicts that 1 out of every 6 blacks in America will be an immigrant. 

Today, black immigrants make up over 25 percent of all black residents in America’s biggest cities like New York, Miami, Minneapolis, and Boston. 

The facts are in: black immigrants represent an increasingly large part of the American population. 

Black Expats Lead English Proficiency Among Immigrants

Gaining proficiency with the English language is a vital step towards assimilation. 

According to a recent study by the New American Economy (NAE), black immigrants learn English at a higher average level than all other immigrant groups. 

The NAE study found that 90 percent of black immigrants from the Caribbean and Africa have a solid command of English. Comparatively, the same study found that about 81 percent of Asian immigrants confidently speak English, versus just 60 percent of Hispanic immigrants.

Researchers theorize that because many black immigrants come from former British colonies (like Jamaica, Ghana, and Nigeria), they are exposed to English at an earlier age and gain an advantage over other immigrant groups.

Perhaps as a result of their English proficiency, black immigrants also have higher rates of naturalization. Pew Research found that nearly 60 percent of black immigrants are U.S. citizens, contrasted with just 49 percent of immigrants overall. 

They’re The Highest Employed Of All Immigrant Groups

According to American Progress, nearly 30 percent of black immigrants over the age of 25 hold a bachelor’s or advanced degree. This is on par with other immigrant groups. 

According to The New American Economy, however, black immigrants are far more likely than natural-born U.S. citizens to “hold a master’s, professional, or doctorate degree.”

As an extension of their educational accomplishments, black immigrants also have a stronger labor force presence than all other immigrant groups. In fact, nearly 75 percent of black immigrants over the age of 16 are employed, compared to 67 percent of all other immigrants. 

Not only are black immigrants employed beyond other immigrant groups, they also surpass the employment level of native-born Americans (64 percent). 

Black Immigrants Power The Healthcare Industry

Though black immigrants only comprise 1.3 percent of the total American population, they represent 3.5 percent of all healthcare workers. 

In fact, The New American Economy found that over 750,000 black immigrants work in the healthcare sector, including nursing homes, hospitals, and long-term care facilities. 

Almost 28 percent of all black immigrant workers are employed in a healthcare setting. 

During the peak of the 2020 global pandemic, black immigrants helped sustain the U.S. healthcare industry. And as the Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates a steady increase in available healthcare jobs, black immigrants will continue demonstrating their irreplaceable value. 

Black Immigrants Fuel the American Economy

The success of black immigrants drives the economy at large, and it starts with small businesses. 

Noting the entrepreneurial spirit of black immigrants, Andrew McCaskill, SVP of Global Communications at Nielsen, found that they are “creating jobs in their communities, and they’re buying products from their entrepreneurs. There typically is a culture of recycling dollars, which contributes greatly to the rising fortunes.”

In 2018, black immigrants earned over $133 billion and paid over $36 billion in taxes. While their median income is 30 percent higher than that of U.S.-born blacks, studies show black immigrants help boost economic opportunity across the African American community. 

Over the last forty years, black immigrants have clearly demonstrated their leadership in educational, entrepreneurial, and economic sectors. 

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