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Immigrants are Contributing to Arkansas Communities and the Economy
New Report Shows that Immigrants are Important to Arkansas’s Future

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (January 8, 2013) – A new study, released today by the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, shows that immigrants represent a small but growing part of Arkansas’s population and are having a positive impact on the state through their investment in communities and productivity to Arkansas’s 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 Foundation’s primary goal with this study,” says Dr. Sherece West-Scantlebury, Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation president and CEO, “is to provide relevant data to help community, business, and policy leaders better understand the population of immigrants and Marshall Islanders in Arkansas.”

According to the report:

Arkansas immigrants are a small but growing population in the state.

  • Arkansas’s share of immigrants (approximately 5 percent of the state’s population) is much smaller than the national average of 13 percent.
  • Arkansas ranked fourth among the states in immigrant population growth from 2000 to 2010, with the foreign-born population increasing by 82 percent.

Immigrants are integrating well in Arkansas, just as previous generations have done.

  • The length of settlement for Arkansas immigrants is expanding: in 2010, 57 percent had lived in Arkansas (or elsewhere in the US) for 10 years or more, compared with 51 percent in 2000.
  • Half of Latino immigrants and two-thirds of non-Latino immigrants owned their own homes.

The native-born population is aging and immigrants are now keeping Arkansas vibrant and competitive.

  • The Latino immigrant share of workers doubled from 2 to 4 percent between 2000 and 2010. Immigrant Latino men have the highest employment rate of any immigrant or native-born group: 88 percent.
  • For every dollar the state spent on services to immigrant households, it received $7 in immigrant business revenue and tax contributions in 2010.
  • The economic contribution of immigrants in 2010 was $3.9 billion. The economic contribution of immigrants has grown considerably since 2004, when their total impact was just $2.9 – and should continue to grow as immigrants and their children increase their share of the state’s total population and workforce.

“The economic benefit is only part of the story we want to tell,” says Dr. West-Scantlebury. “Immigrants are long-term residents of the state and are contributing to stronger neighborhoods and vibrant communities.”

In addition to the data around immigrants, the report also takes a comprehensive look at Arkansas’s Marshallese population. Arkansas has the second-largest Marshallese population outside the Republic of Marshall Islands, after the state of Hawaii. Most of the Marshallese in the state live in Northwest Arkansas.

The updated data in this report supports the Foundation’s mission to improve the lives of all Arkansans by closing the educational and economic gaps that leave many families behind. The study is part of the Foundation’s continuing commitment to identify and support those factors that can help the state move the needle from poverty to prosperity.

“We encourage our state’s community leaders and policymakers to use the report to engage in data-driven conversation about the positive impact of immigrants on our state’s communities and economy,” says Dr. West-Scantlebury. “We need to invest in the future of immigrants if the state is to benefit from their culture, productivity, and economic contributions.”

To read the three volumes of A Profile of Immigrants in Arkansas 2013 commissioned by the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation that analyze the population of immigrants and Marshall Islanders in Arkansas, visit

About the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation

For more than 35 years, the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation has worked to make a difference by helping to build and sustain the organizations that serve and strengthen Arkansas.  Through grantmaking and strategic partnerships, we are working even harder to help close the economic and education gaps that leave too many Arkansas families in persistent poverty.


Central Arkansas – Regan Gruber Moffitt
(501) 265-9562

Northwest Arkansas – Sarah Donaghy
(501) 231-5781