The nonpartisan Urban Institute publishes studies, reports, and books on timely topics worthy of public consideration. The views expressed are those of the authors and should not be attributed to the Urban Institute, its trustees, or its funders.
Arkansas, which had the 4th fastest growing immigrant population and fastest growing Latino population of any state between 2000 and 2005, is the subject of this series of reports. Volume 1 provides detailed demographic information about the foreign-born in Arkansas and compares immigrants to natives on a wide variety of quality-of-life measures. It profiles immigrants' countries of birth, legal status, educational attainment, poverty, homeownership, employment, and the primary industries in which they are employed. Volume 2 assesses immigrants' impacts on the Arkansas economy, in terms of consumer spending, tax contributions, fiscal costs, and the savings that businesses and consumers realize by using immigrant labor. An executive summary is also listed below.
The text below is an excerpt from the executive summary.
Download the complete executive summary in PDF format (by Randy Capps and Everett Henderson, The Urban Institute; John D. Kasarda, James H. Johnson, Jr., Stephen J. Appold, and Derrek L. Croney, The University of North Carolina; Donald J. Hernandez, The University at Albany; and Michael Fix, Migration Policy Insitute).
Download Volume 1 in PDF format (by Randy Capps and Everett Henderson, The Urban Institute; Donald J. Hernandez, The University at Albany; Michael Fix, Migration Policy Institute).
Download Volume 2 in PDF format (by John D. Kasarda, James H. Johnson, Jr., Stephen J. Appold, and Derrek L. Croney, The University of North Carolina).
There is also a companion video, which may be obtained from the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation in Little Rock. For more information , see their webpage: www.wrfoundation.org.
A Profile of Immigrants in Arkansas
Arkansas, like much of the southeastern United States, is experiencing economic expansion alongside
a wave of record-high immigration. Only a small fraction of the nation's nearly 36 million immigrants—about 100,000—live in Arkansas, and immigrants represent just 4 percent of the state's total
population. However, the population of immigrants in Arkansas is growing much faster than the
national average, as is the case for many neighboring states.
This summary report and two companion volumes were commissioned by the Winthrop
Rockefeller Foundation to fully discuss key demographic trends, economic factors, and public-policy
issues associated with immigrants in Arkansas. The first volume, "Immigrant Workers, Families, and
Their Children," provides a demographic overview of the state's foreign-born population, explores
the composition of the immigrant labor force, and describes trends in the state's population of children
in immigrant families. The second volume, "Impacts on the Arkansas Economy," describes
immigrants' purchasing power, tax contributions, fiscal costs, and indirect economic impacts through
spin-off jobs. This report highlights the findings from those two volumes.
Demographics of the Arkansas Foreign-Born Population
- Arkansas had the fourth-fastest-growing immigrant population nationwide between 1990
and 2000: 196 percent. The state's immigrant population nearly tripled from 25,000 to
74,000 during the 1990s. Between 2000 and 2005, Arkansas was tied for fourth in its foreignborn
growth rate (37 percent). The southeastern states of North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee,
Kentucky, South Carolina, and Alabama were also among the 10 states with the fastest growing
immigrant populations during at least one of these periods.
- Arkansas had the fastest growing Hispanic population nationwide between 2000 and
2005 (48 percent).
- Following the pattern for other southeastern new-growth states, Arkansas has a greater
share of recently arrived Mexican and other Latin American immigrants than is the case
nationally. The state's foreign-born population is heavily Hispanic: Mexico and other Latin
American countries accounted for two-thirds of the state's immigrants in 2005, compared with
about half nationally.
- While the majority of Arkansas immigrants are from Latin America, one-third hail from
other destinations, including Europe and Asia. In 2005, 18 percent of Arkansas' foreignborn
population came from Asia; 12 percent came from Europe, Canada, or Oceania; and
3 percent came from Africa and other countries.
- About half of Arkansas immigrants are undocumented; most come to the state for work. Like other southern states with large shares of Mexican immigrants, Arkansas has many undocumented
immigrants. In 2004–05, 51 percent of Arkansas immigrants were undocumented,
compared with 29 percent nationally. In 2000, the employment rate for undocumented men
(81 percent) was higher than that for legal immigrant, naturalized citizen, or U.S.-born men.
- The highest foreign-born population shares can be found along the western edge of
Arkansas, with the largest communities in Springdale, Rogers, Fayetteville, and Fort
Smith. The Little Rock metropolitan area also has a substantial immigrant population. In 2005,
four counties—Benton, Washington, Sebastian, and Pulaski—included almost two-thirds
(63 percent) of the state's immigrants.
The complete report is available in PDF format.