Sub-Saharan African Immigrants in the United States

Carlos Echeverria-Estrada & Jeanne Batalova
Date of Publication: 
November, 2019
Source Organization: 
Migration Policy Institute

In 1980, there were fewer than 150,000 immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa residing in the U.S. In 2019, there were more than two million. “Sub-Saharan Africans Immigrants in the United States” by the Migration Policy Institute looks at the geographic distribution, demographic characteristics and naturalization patterns of immigrants from the 51 countries that constitute sub-Saharan Africa. Using data from the 2010-2018 U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Surveys as well as the World Bank and Yearbook of Immigration Statistics, this brief finds that immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa have higher labor force participation rates than other immigrants or the U.S.-born population, are highly represented in management, business, science and arts occupations, and tend to be well educated. In 2017, 32 percent of U.S.-born citizens had earned at least a bachelor’s degree compared to 40% of immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa. The authors also include information about why this population emigrated to the U.S., as some are refugees from conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo or Somalia, some are high-skilled immigrants from Ghana and Nigeria seeking job or school opportunities, some are lottery visa recipients from Cameroon and Liberia and many others are reuniting with family members. The brief finally looks at remittances from sub-Saharan immigrants, which have greatly increased since the early 2000s to $45.7 billion in 2018. (Deb D’Anastasio for The ILC Public Education Institute)

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Echeverria-Estrada, C., & Batalova, J. (2019). Sub-Saharan African immigrants in the United States. Retrieved from