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Immigrants are crucial
to Texas’ economy

New FWD.us analysis reveals the state’s reliance on immigrants for a robust economy and a strong labor force.

A construction worker helps build a 375 apartment building in Austin, Texas, November 5, 2009.
"Texas depends on immigrants to grow its economy, and the immigrant labor force cannot be taken for granted"

Immigrants now make up nearly a quarter (23%) of Texas’ labor force, according to a FWD.us analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data, nearly double the share from three decades ago.1 With more than 3.3 million workers, Texas has America’s second-largest immigrant labor force after California.

Source: FWD.us analysis of 1950 to 2000 decennial Census data, 2010 and 2019 American Community Survey data

Texas depends on immigrants to grow its economy, and the immigrant labor force cannot be taken for granted. Immigrants in Texas’ workforce contribute an estimated $119 billion to the Texas economy annually in personal income, making up nearly 1 in 5 of all wage dollars in the state. Lawmakers in Austin should prioritize pro-immigrant policies that support families, and that further expand immigrants’ ability to contribute to Texas’ economy.

Use our interactive table below for the immigrant share of critical industries.

Large shares of workers in key Texan industries are immigrants

Type the name of a metro area or industry in the search box for results
Type the name of a metro area or industry in the search box for results
MetroIndustry% immigrant
AmarilloAgriculturen/a
AmarilloMining10%
AmarilloConstruction25%
AmarilloManufacturing27%
AmarilloWholesale/retail5%
AmarilloTransportation/utilities6%
AmarilloInformation20%
AmarilloFinancial activities6%
AmarilloBusiness services7%
AmarilloEducation services7%
AmarilloHealth services8%
AmarilloRestaurant/food services11%
AmarilloLeisure/accommodation7%
Austin-Round RockAgriculture13%
Austin-Round RockMining22%
Austin-Round RockConstruction35%
Austin-Round RockManufacturing25%
Austin-Round RockWholesale/retail13%
Austin-Round RockTransportation/utilities28%
Austin-Round RockInformation12%
Austin-Round RockFinancial activities15%
Austin-Round RockBusiness services19%
Austin-Round RockEducation services17%
Austin-Round RockHealth services18%
Austin-Round RockRestaurant/food services18%
Austin-Round RockLeisure/accommodation16%
Beaumont-Port ArthurAgriculture25%
Beaumont-Port ArthurMining2%
Beaumont-Port ArthurConstruction24%
Beaumont-Port ArthurManufacturing12%
Beaumont-Port ArthurWholesale/retail9%
Beaumont-Port ArthurTransportation/utilities9%
Beaumont-Port ArthurInformationn/a
Beaumont-Port ArthurFinancial activities8%
Beaumont-Port ArthurBusiness services10%
Beaumont-Port ArthurEducation services5%
Beaumont-Port ArthurHealth services7%
Beaumont-Port ArthurRestaurant/food services12%
Beaumont-Port ArthurLeisure/accommodation14%
Brownsville-HarlingenAgriculture58%
Brownsville-HarlingenMining34%
Brownsville-HarlingenConstruction52%
Brownsville-HarlingenManufacturing42%
Brownsville-HarlingenWholesale/retail19%
Brownsville-HarlingenTransportation/utilities13%
Brownsville-HarlingenInformation13%
Brownsville-HarlingenFinancial activities18%
Brownsville-HarlingenBusiness services31%
Brownsville-HarlingenEducation services21%
Brownsville-HarlingenHealth services30%
Brownsville-HarlingenRestaurant/food services28%
Brownsville-HarlingenLeisure/accommodation26%
College Station-BryanAgriculture10%
College Station-BryanMining11%
College Station-BryanConstruction30%
College Station-BryanManufacturing30%
College Station-BryanWholesale/retail7%
College Station-BryanTransportation/utilities15%
College Station-BryanInformation9%
College Station-BryanFinancial activities10%
College Station-BryanBusiness services22%
College Station-BryanEducation services20%
College Station-BryanHealth services14%
College Station-BryanRestaurant/food services6%
College Station-BryanLeisure/accommodation8%
Corpus ChristiAgriculture9%
Corpus ChristiMining12%
Corpus ChristiConstruction21%
Corpus ChristiManufacturing15%
Corpus ChristiWholesale/retail8%
Corpus ChristiTransportation/utilities4%
Corpus ChristiInformationn/a
Corpus ChristiFinancial activities15%
Corpus ChristiBusiness services7%
Corpus ChristiEducation services12%
Corpus ChristiHealth services7%
Corpus ChristiRestaurant/food services10%
Corpus ChristiLeisure/accommodation3%
Dallas-Fort Worth-ArlingtonAgriculture20%
Dallas-Fort Worth-ArlingtonMining13%
Dallas-Fort Worth-ArlingtonConstruction46%
Dallas-Fort Worth-ArlingtonManufacturing30%
Dallas-Fort Worth-ArlingtonWholesale/retail20%
Dallas-Fort Worth-ArlingtonTransportation/utilities23%
Dallas-Fort Worth-ArlingtonInformation18%
Dallas-Fort Worth-ArlingtonFinancial activities16%
Dallas-Fort Worth-ArlingtonBusiness services25%
Dallas-Fort Worth-ArlingtonEducation services16%
Dallas-Fort Worth-ArlingtonHealth services19%
Dallas-Fort Worth-ArlingtonRestaurant/food services26%
Dallas-Fort Worth-ArlingtonLeisure/accommodation22%
El PasoAgriculture34%
El PasoMining23%
El PasoConstruction41%
El PasoManufacturing34%
El PasoWholesale/retail23%
El PasoTransportation/utilities35%
El PasoInformation17%
El PasoFinancial activities17%
El PasoBusiness services25%
El PasoEducation services25%
El PasoHealth services28%
El PasoRestaurant/food services21%
El PasoLeisure/accommodation22%
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar LandAgriculture33%
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar LandMining28%
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar LandConstruction47%
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar LandManufacturing32%
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar LandWholesale/retail26%
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar LandTransportation/utilities24%
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar LandInformation16%
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar LandFinancial activities21%
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar LandBusiness services31%
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar LandEducation services21%
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar LandHealth services27%
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar LandRestaurant/food services31%
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar LandLeisure/accommodation23%
LaredoAgriculture46%
LaredoMining21%
LaredoConstruction49%
LaredoManufacturing50%
LaredoWholesale/retail31%
LaredoTransportation/utilities32%
LaredoInformation3%
LaredoFinancial activities22%
LaredoBusiness services46%
LaredoEducation services17%
LaredoHealth services32%
LaredoRestaurant/food services34%
LaredoLeisure/accommodation23%
LubbockAgriculture3%
LubbockMining8%
LubbockConstruction11%
LubbockManufacturing13%
LubbockWholesale/retail5%
LubbockTransportation/utilities7%
LubbockInformation2%
LubbockFinancial activities5%
LubbockBusiness services2%
LubbockEducation services15%
LubbockHealth services6%
LubbockRestaurant/food services6%
LubbockLeisure/accommodation1%
McAllen-Edinburg-MissionAgriculture65%
McAllen-Edinburg-MissionMining23%
McAllen-Edinburg-MissionConstruction56%
McAllen-Edinburg-MissionManufacturing39%
McAllen-Edinburg-MissionWholesale/retail25%
McAllen-Edinburg-MissionTransportation/utilities27%
McAllen-Edinburg-MissionInformation18%
McAllen-Edinburg-MissionFinancial activities19%
McAllen-Edinburg-MissionBusiness services39%
McAllen-Edinburg-MissionEducation services27%
McAllen-Edinburg-MissionHealth services31%
McAllen-Edinburg-MissionRestaurant/food services31%
McAllen-Edinburg-MissionLeisure/accommodation30%
MidlandAgriculture42%
MidlandMining22%
MidlandConstruction13%
MidlandManufacturing12%
MidlandWholesale/retail24%
MidlandTransportation/utilities11%
MidlandInformationn/a
MidlandFinancial activities7%
MidlandBusiness services16%
MidlandEducation services5%
MidlandHealth services28%
MidlandRestaurant/food services10%
MidlandLeisure/accommodation25%
OdessaAgriculturen/a
OdessaMining14%
OdessaConstruction38%
OdessaManufacturing10%
OdessaWholesale/retail15%
OdessaTransportation/utilities22%
OdessaInformation19%
OdessaFinancial activities4%
OdessaBusiness services11%
OdessaEducation services14%
OdessaHealth services20%
OdessaRestaurant/food services30%
OdessaLeisure/accommodation6%
San AngeloAgriculture16%
San AngeloMining13%
San AngeloConstruction17%
San AngeloManufacturing18%
San AngeloWholesale/retail5%
San AngeloTransportation/utilities5%
San AngeloInformation5%
San AngeloFinancial activities1%
San AngeloBusiness services12%
San AngeloEducation services5%
San AngeloHealth services6%
San AngeloRestaurant/food services3%
San AngeloLeisure/accommodation10%
San Antonio-New BraunfelsAgriculture16%
San Antonio-New BraunfelsMining19%
San Antonio-New BraunfelsConstruction32%
San Antonio-New BraunfelsManufacturing20%
San Antonio-New BraunfelsWholesale/retail12%
San Antonio-New BraunfelsTransportation/utilities13%
San Antonio-New BraunfelsInformation7%
San Antonio-New BraunfelsFinancial activities8%
San Antonio-New BraunfelsBusiness services17%
San Antonio-New BraunfelsEducation services10%
San Antonio-New BraunfelsHealth services12%
San Antonio-New BraunfelsRestaurant/food services14%
San Antonio-New BraunfelsLeisure/accommodation9%
TylerAgriculturen/a
TylerMining1%
TylerConstruction27%
TylerManufacturing19%
TylerWholesale/retail9%
TylerTransportation/utilities10%
TylerInformation6%
TylerFinancial activities5%
TylerBusiness services16%
TylerEducation services7%
TylerHealth services9%
TylerRestaurant/food services13%
TylerLeisure/accommodation25%
WacoAgriculturen/a
WacoMiningn/a
WacoConstruction31%
WacoManufacturing14%
WacoWholesale/retail7%
WacoTransportation/utilities6%
WacoInformationn/a
WacoFinancial activities5%
WacoBusiness services16%
WacoEducation services7%
WacoHealth services10%
WacoRestaurant/food services8%
WacoLeisure/accommodation12%
Wichita FallsAgriculture11%
Wichita FallsMining10%
Wichita FallsConstruction5%
Wichita FallsManufacturing8%
Wichita FallsWholesale/retail7%
Wichita FallsTransportation/utilities10%
Wichita FallsInformationn/a
Wichita FallsFinancial activities6%
Wichita FallsBusiness services3%
Wichita FallsEducation services3%
Wichita FallsHealth services10%
Wichita FallsRestaurant/food services9%
Wichita FallsLeisure/accommodation23%

Source: FWD.us analysis of 2019 American Community Survey data.
Note: n/a refers to insufficient data to provide an estimate. Landscaping and building services are included in business services. Child and senior care is included in health services.

FWD.us analysis shows that immigrants make up significant shares of workers in industries like construction (37%), business services (23%), and manufacturing (26%). Immigrants make up even larger shares of more specific essential industries, like 53% of landscaping services, 47% of building services, 42% of meat processing, 22% of restaurant and food services, and a third or more of several manufacturing industries, including those that produce plastic products and electrical products.

Source: FWD.us analysis of 2019 American Community Survey data
"Immigrants now make up nearly a quarter (23%) of Texas’ labor force and contribute an estimated $119 billion to the Texas economy annually"

Texas’ total immigrant workforce is highly integrated into Texas’ society. Some 71% of immigrants in Texas speak English, about 59% are homeowners, and 79% have lived in the U.S. since 2010 or earlier. About 9 million Texans, or roughly a third of Texas’ population, live in a household with at least one immigrant.

Immigrants of many different backgrounds and various legal statuses make up the total labor force in Texas. More than 1.1 million are naturalized U.S. citizens, an estimated 900,000 people are lawful permanent residents, and 140,000 individuals are members of the workforce with nonimmigrant status, like H-1B visa holders, or other temporary immigrants. Together, these U.S. citizens and people with some form of legal status make up 15% of Texas’ total labor force.

“FWD.us estimates that more than 1.1 million workers in Texas are undocumented immigrants, representing nearly 8% of the total workforce”

Additionally, FWD.us estimates that more than 1.1 million workers in Texas are undocumented immigrants, representing nearly 8% of the total workforce, the highest level of any U.S. state. With such a large share of Texas’ workforce, undocumented workers have become critical to the labor infrastructure of the state, especially during times of crisis such as the COVID-19 recovery or natural disasters like hurricanes and sudden freezes. Undocumented immigrants are particularly concentrated in agricultural occupations (33% of the total agricultural workforce), construction jobs (27%), and among building grounds and maintenance workers (24%).

Undocumented workers are also highly integrated into Texas’ communities and society, with nearly half (49%) being homeowners and more than three-quarters (78%) having lived in the U.S. since 2010 or earlier. Through their wages, they contribute more than $30 billion to the economy annually, with an additional $6.5 billion in combined federal, state, and local taxes.

Immigrants help power major sectors of the state’s workforce, driving innovation, creating American jobs, and boosting economic growth. If Texas wants to continue being a leading global economy, then we need to enact policies that build a vibrant, inclusive, welcoming environment for immigrants of all backgrounds. Doing so is critically important for the Texan economy; it is also the right thing to do.

Notes

  1. Figures are based on U.S. Census data for 1950 to 2000 and American Community Survey (ACS) data for 2010 and 2019. Unless otherwise specified, statistics represent analysis from the 2019 ACS. Data were obtained from IPUMS USA. Immigrants were born outside of the U.S. and its territories and do not include U.S. citizens born abroad.

Zaira Garcia

Texas Director

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