Yesterday we looked at income levels and state productivity. As you know, the loudest issue about immigration centers on jobs. In addition to wages, it is important that we look at two additional metrics; the unemployment rate and the poverty rate for each state. The unemployment rate gives us a snapshot on the job accessibility. The poverty rates also give us an opportunity to see if there is a correlation between poverty and the immigrant populations.


One of the aspects about jobs is the unemployment rate. Although unemployment rates are the result of various factors, it is nonetheless an issue that drives the immigration debate. As such, it is in important metric that needs to be considered.

Although the assumption might be that the states with the highest immigrant populations, both documented and undocumented, would be the one with the highest unemployment rates, the actual rates dispels this myth.

Although the top five lowest unemployment rates by state corresponds to states with lower immigrant population rates, they do not necessarily correspond directly. For example, New Hampshire and South Dakota, the two states with the lowest immigrant populations in their midst also have lower unemployment rates. However, Mississippi has one of the lowest immigration populations but it also has one of the largest unemployment rates in the country.

California, which has the largest immigrant population mix, in all metrics; documented, undocumented and Mexican, also has one of the highest unemployment rates. But it is important to note that California, as we saw yesterday, has the largest GDP of all the states.

Poverty Rates

The other issue about the immigration debate is the idea that immigrants put pressure on wages. To address this notion, we next examine the metric of poverty rates for each of the states. The poverty rate figures are from 2014.

As you can see, the top four states with the least poverty are on the east coast. New Jersey is one of the top five states with the highest immigrant population in its midst. The fifth state with the least poverty is North Dakota. The five states with the highest poverty rates are: Mississippi (51), New Mexico (5), Louisiana (49), Alabama (48) and Kentucky (47). The top five states with the largest immigrant populations, except New Jersey, have poverty rates that are in the middle of all of the other states.

Unemployment and poverty rates cannot be used alone to see if a correlation exists between them and immigrant populations as there are many factors that drive these two metrics.

At this point, unemployment and poverty rates seem to be driven by other factors besides the immigrant populations. The top five states with the highest immigration populations do not correlate with the highest poverty rates. Neither do the unemployment rates.

Tomorrow, we will look at the cost to educate students in each states, as well federal aid and health insurance coverage rates.

Martin Paredes

Martín Paredes is a Mexican immigrant who built his business on the U.S.-Mexican border. As an immigrant, Martín brings the perspective of someone who sees México as a native through the experience...

6 replies on “The Immigrant Question – Unemployment and Poverty”

  1. “As you know, the loudest issue about immigration centers on jobs. In addition to wages…”
    Martin, I don’t know what you’re smoking these days, but the loudest issues on immigration are legality and assimilation. There are millions here who chose to start their American journey by violating our laws and we are a nation of laws. I do not understand why you don’t get that.

    Secondly, about 100 Americans have been killed by Islamist terrorists in the last three years (Boston, San Bernardino, Orlando, OSU). The terrorists were born here to Islamic parents so, so much for the peaceful assimilation lie. Islam is hostile to liberal secular democracy as we and Europe are learning.

    These are the immigration issues of the day and why it was such a hot potato in the last election, the inane protests of Social Justice Warriors not withstanding.

    My guess is that, if Trump keeps his promise to build the wall showing us that the tide of illegals from the south has been dammed, traditional American generosity will surface quickly toward those who are already here and a path to citizenship will emerge for them.

    But maybe not.

    1. Maybe in your warped liberal worldview does assimilation mean white supremacy. For the rest of us normal people, it means adherence to legal and political mores. It means adherence to liberal democratic principles; it does NOT mean adherence to social customs.

      1. Political norms is an expression of prejudice. Whiteness is multidimensional, complex, systemic and systematic. It is socially and politically constructed, and therefore it is a learned behavior. It is ideology based on beliefs, values behaviors, habits and attitudes, which result in the unequal distribution of power and privilege. If it doesn’t look white it is not part of the political norms.

      2. You might think, then, that migration would be in the other direction if “whiteness” as you describe it is so horrible.

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