Immigrants are Small But Growing Part of State's Population, Economy

A study released today shows immigrants represent a small but growing part of the Arkansas population and are having a positive impact on the state through investment in communities and productivity to the state economy.

The three-volume report, A Profile of Immigrants in Arkansas 2013, describes the demographic characteristics of the state’s immigrant population, their economic and fiscal impact, and the state’s Marshallese community. The report – produced by researchers from the Migration Policy Institute, the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the University of Arkansas – is a follow-up to a similar study in 2007.

The new report was commissioned by the Winthrip Rockefeller Foundation.

“The foundation’s primary goal with this study is to provide relevant data to help community, business, and policy leaders better understand the population of immigrants and Marshall Islanders in Arkansas,” said Sherece West-Scantlebury, Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation president and CEO.

Volume 1 focuses on families and the changing immigrant workforce in Arkansas.

Volume 2 addresses economic aspects of the immigrant population. The study determined immigrants' economic impact on the state is near $3.9 billion annually. That's a significant increase over the $2.9 billion estimated in 2004.

Volume 3 of the report focuses on the state's Marshallese community. It shows 19 percent of the nation's Marshallese population live in Arkansas. That 19 percent amounts to 4,300 people. Springdale has the state's largest Marshallese community.

Northwest Arkansas has a large immigrant population, and those populations are largest in the cities of Lowell, Rogers, Siloam Springs and Springdale.

About 15 percent of residents in Benton and Washington counties are Hispanic. The statewide Hispanic population is 6.6 percent Hispanic, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.