Special Report

Best Cities for Immigrants

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25. Stockton, CA
> Foreign-born population: 23.3%
> Median income of foreign-born households: $58,305 (86.4% of native-born)
> Foreign-born unemployment rate: 7.0% (1.1 ppts less than native-born)
> Foreign-born population who are naturalized U.S. citizens: 49.6%
> Total population: 742,603

Stockton in Central California ranks as one of the best cities for immigrants, one of five California cities among the top 25. Of the nearly 750,000 Stockton residents, 23.3% are foreign-born, compared to 13.6% of all Americans.

Nationwide, the poverty rate for foreign-born residents is 15.4%, which is 2.3 percentage points higher than the native-born poverty rate. In Stockton, 14.8% of foreign-born residents live below the poverty line. The city’s native-born population has a 14.4% poverty rate. Stockton is one of just two of the best cities for immigrants in which the foreign-born population declined from 2015 to 2019, though the decline was very small.

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24. Sacramento-Roseville-Folsom, CA
> Foreign-born population: 18.6%
> Median income of foreign-born households: $59,883 (79.5% of native-born)
> Foreign-born unemployment rate: 5.1% (1.2 ppts less than native-born)
> Foreign-born population who are naturalized U.S. citizens: 57.0%
> Total population: 2,315,980

In California’s capital of Sacramento, 18.6% of the 2.3 million residents were born outside of the U.S. – 5 percentage points higher than the U.S. share of the population that is foreign-born. An estimated 57.0% of foreign-born residents are naturalized citizens, above the national rate of 49.6%.

The foreign-born population in the area has increased by 0.6% from 2015 to 2019, slightly above the 0.4% increase in the immigrant population nationwide during that time. The median income of nearly $60,000 of foreign-born Sacramento household is slightly higher than the median income of foreign-born households nationwide

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23. Punta Gorda, FL
> Foreign-born population: 10.9%
> Median income of foreign-born households: $37,651 (70.7% of native-born)
> Foreign-born unemployment rate: 4.6% (1.4 ppts less than native-born)
> Foreign-born population who are naturalized U.S. citizens: 60.6%
> Total population: 181,067

When foreign-born residents become naturalized citizens, they gain a number of benefits, including the ability to vote. Across the country, slightly less than half of foreign-born residents, 49.6%, are naturalized citizens. Yet in the Punta Gorda area, more than 60% of foreign-born residents are.

Homeownership is one of the best ways to build wealth, and the homeownership rate among Punta Gorda area foreign-born residents is 78.0%. This is the third-highest rate among all major metro areas and well above the national foreign-born homeownership rate of 52.5%.

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22. Port St. Lucie, FL
> Foreign-born population: 14.5%
> Median income of foreign-born households: $49,597 (88.1% of native-born)
> Foreign-born unemployment rate: 5.4% (0.1 ppts more than native-born)
> Foreign-born population who are naturalized U.S. citizens: 56.8%
> Total population: 472,012

Port St. Lucie, Florida, has one of the fastest-growing populations of immigrants anywhere in the U.S. The total number of foreign-born residents increased by 1.0% from 2015 to 2019, more than double the national growth rate of the immigrant population.

Across the country, 15.4% of immigrants live below the poverty line compared to 13.1% of native-born Americans. In Port St. Lucie, the foreign-born poverty rate is 13.7%. Not only is this relatively low, but it is also relatively close to the native-born poverty rate of 11.9%.

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21. New Haven-Milford, CT
> Foreign-born population: 12.7%
> Median income of foreign-born households: $60,292 (84.3% of native-born)
> Foreign-born unemployment rate: 6.6% (0.2 ppts more than native-born)
> Foreign-born population who are naturalized U.S. citizens: 52.1%
> Total population: 857,513

Though the New Haven-Milford, Connecticut, metro area ranks as one of the best cities for immigrants, it has a relatively low foreign-born population. Just 12.7% of area residents were born abroad compared to 13.6% of all U.S. residents.

Education can be an important aspect of life in helping foreign-born residents attain financial stability, and New Haven area immigrants have among the best educational attainment rates in the country. Nationwide, 72.4% of foreign-born residents 25 and older hold at least a high school diploma, but in New Haven, that share is 81.0%. Also, 35.6% of foreign-born residents hold at least a bachelor’s degree, a higher share than the native-born residents’ bachelor’s degree attainment rate of 34.9%. Across the country, 32.3% of native-born and 31.3% of foreign-born residents of that age have at least a bachelor’s degree.

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