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Three Things to Know … Immigrant Women

In celebration of Women’s History Month, we shine a light on the many ways that immigrant women and girls in the United States are contributing to the economy and American society. Here are three things you should know.

1. Immigrant women and girls play a significant social and economic role in U.S. culture and society.

Immigrant women actively contribute to the U.S. economy by serving vital roles across sectors essential to the lives and the well-being of Americans. These include healthcare (75% of all foreign-born healthcare workers are women) and education (15% of all preschool and kindergarten teachers are women). Immigrant women are also entrepreneurs and create new jobs by starting and driving new business initiatives. More than 65,000 immigrant women started their own food businesses, and more than 105,000 owned beauty salons (including nail salons) were started by women.

2. Immigrant women and girls have a prominent representation when it comes to U.S. immigration.

There are more than 23 million female immigrants in the United States today, accounting for more than half (52%) of the total foreign-born population, and more than half (50.6%) of the native-born population. These numbers vary based on the country of origin. Female immigrants from Korea, China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, and Colombia outnumber immigrant boys and men, whereas male immigrants from Mexico and India outnumber females.

Importantly, women and girls are more likely to come to the United States through the family-based immigration system (~280,000 immediate relatives and ~115,000 family-sponsored), rather than employment (~67,000) based on the data from the Department of Homeland Security.

Immigrant women actively participate in the American labor force, yet they earn the least.

Immigrant women from The Philippines (64.6%), El Salvador (62.6 %), Colombia (62.1 %), Vietnam (61.5%), and Dominican Republic (61%) have higher rates of participation in the labor force than native-born women. Despite immigrant women’s contribution to the economy, their median annual income ($27K) is less than immigrant men ($38K), native-born women ($32K), and a little over half of the native-born men ($45K) in the labor force!

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