Critical Assets: The State of Immigrants in Virginia’s Economy

Sara Okos, Sookyung Oh and Michael Cassidy
Date of Publication: 
October, 2012
Source Organization: 

Immigrants in Virginia are well educated, more prosperous than their counterparts nationally and more likely to be business owners than native-born Virginians, finds this study by The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis.  

Critical Assets: The State of Immigrants in Virginia's Economy documents major economic and demographic trends among Virginia's foreign-born population. Among the report's key findings:

  1. Virginia's immigrant population is growing and diverse. With more than 903,000 foreign-born residents, Virginia in 2010 had the ninth-largest immigrant population in the U.S. No single country of origin accounts for more than 10 percent of the state's immigrants
  2. Virginia's immigrants are well-educated. Nearly four of every 10 foreign-born residents in Virginia held a bachelor's or an advanced degree. Roughly three-quarters of the state's immigrants speak English well or very well. Such knowledge and skills are crucial to economic success.
  3. A major share of the workforce is foreign-born and prospering. One of every seven Virginia workers in 2010 was foreign-born even though immigrants make up about one of every 10 people in the state. Over the past decade, the median income of foreign-born workers in Virginia grew 6.1 percent, while immigrants' incomes fell by a similar amount nationwide. 
  4. Business ownership is widespread among Virginia's immigrants. Foreign-born Virginians work in all sectors of the state's economy but they are more likely than native-born Virginians to be business owners. While immigrants comprise about 11 percent of Virginia's population, they represent roughly 17 percent of its entrepreneurs. 

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Okos, S., Oh, S. and Cassidy, M. (2012). Critical Assets: The State of Immigrants in Virginia's Economy. Richmond, VA: The Commonwealth Institute. Retrieved from