New Report Shows Importance of Immigrant Families to Arkansas’s Economy

New Report Shows Importance of Immigrant Families to Arkansas’s Economy

Immigrants in Arkansas are an essential, beneficial and rapidly growing segment of the Arkansas economy, according to a new study released today by the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation.


The Foundation released a three-volume update of A Profile of Immigrants in Arkansas, which describes the current and future roles of immigrants and their children in Arkansas. While immigrants are still a small part of our state population, they are an indispensable part of our state workforce and a rapidly growing segment of our child population. The report, executive summary and infographic are available here.


Dr. Sherece West-Scantlebury, the Foundation’s president and CEO, said the goal of the study is to provide relevant information to help Arkansas business, community and policy leaders better understand the state’s immigrant population.


At the announcement in Springdale, University of Arkansas Chancellor David Gearhart said he hopes the report will be used widely for that purpose. He said he encounters well-meaning, well-educated people all the time who are unaware of the impact that the immigrant population has in Arkansas and the policies that affect them. “It’s going to help us discern fact from myth and presumption from actuality,” he said.


Key findings of the report include:

  • The economic contribution of of immigrants in 2010 was $3.9 billion. The economic contribution of immigrants has grown considerably since 2004, when the total impact was $2.9 billion. It should continue to grow as immigrants and their children increase their share of the state’s total population and workforce.
  • For every $1 that state and local governments spend on immigrants and their families, the state’s economy gains $7 through economic activity.
  • Immigrants are keeping Arkansas young and vibrant. The child population in Arkansas would have declined from 2000 to 2010 if it weren’t for Latino children. The state’s population of Latino children increased by 38,000 during that time, while the non-Hispanic white child population declined by 23,000.
  • Immigrants in Arkansas are increasingly settled as U.S. residents. In 2010, 57 percent had lived in Arkansas (or elsewhere in the U.S.) for a decade or more. That’s compared to 51 percent in 2000.
  • Half of Latino immigrants and two-thirds of non-Latino immigrants owned their own homes.
  • Immigrants in Arkansas are concentrated in the north and western counties of Arkansas, with 44 percent of the state’s immigrant population living in Washington, Benton and Sebastian counties. (Seventeen percent live in Pulaski County, and 39 percent live in rural counties throughout the state.)
  • During the height of the recession, from 2008-2010, Latino immigrant men had the highest employment rate of any group – immigrant or native born – at 88 percent.


Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families released a report in July that outlines the essential role that children of immigrants play in our state’s economic future, as well as policy initiatives that could give them more opportunities to thrive. Critical Generation: Improving the Lives of Children of Immigrants in Arkansas, is available here.