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Foreign born make up 28 percent of labor force in Pacific states

May 25, 2016

In 2015, there were 26.3 million foreign-born people in the U.S. civilian labor force. The share of the labor force that was foreign born was 16.7 percent. The foreign born made up 28.1 percent of the labor force in Pacific states and 21.2 percent in Middle Atlantic states. The foreign born made up the smallest share of the labor force in East South Central (5.2 percent), West North Central (7.1 percent), and East North Central states (9.4 percent).


Percentage of the civilian labor force that is foreign born, 2015 annual averages

17.7% and higher
17.0% to 17.6%
15.0% to 16.9%
7.1% to 14.9%
7.0% and lower
Hover over a division to see data.
Hover over legend items to see divisions in a category.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In 2015, the overall labor force participation rate of the foreign born was 65.2 percent, compared with 62.2 percent for the native born. Labor force participation rates of the foreign born were highest in West North Central states (71.5 percent) and lowest in Pacific and Middle Atlantic states (both 63.7 percent). In all 9 geographic divisions, labor force participation rates of the foreign born were higher than or the same as the rates for the native born.



Labor force participation rates of the foreign born and native born, 2015 annual averages
Census division Foreign born Native born

West North Central

71.5% 68.1%

West South Central

67.2 61.8

South Atlantic

66.8 60.3

New England

65.5 65.5

East North Central

65.1 63.3


64.9 63.1

East South Central

64.5 57.3

Middle Atlantic

63.7 61.8


63.7 61.8

The states (including the District of Columbia) that compose the census divisions are:
New England
: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont
Middle Atlantic
: New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania
South Atlantic: Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia
East South Central: Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee
West South Central
: Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas
East North Central
: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin
West North Central
: Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota
Mountain: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming
: Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington.

These data are from the Current Population Survey. For more information, see “Foreign-born Workers: Labor Force Characteristics — 2015” (HTML) (PDF). The foreign born are people who live in the United States but were born outside the country or one of its outlying areas to parents who were not U.S. citizens. The foreign born include legally admitted immigrants, refugees, temporary residents such as students and temporary workers, and undocumented immigrants. The survey data, however, do not separately identify people in these categories. The labor force participation rate is the percentage of the civilian population age 16 and older that is employed or actively seeking employment.


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Foreign born make up 28 percent of labor force in Pacific states at (visited May 28, 2024).

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