July 19, 2019

Immigrant Families and Kids See Economic Gains — But Disparities Persist

Percentage of children in low-income working families by family nativity (2008–2017)

The strengthened U.S. economy seems to be buoying children in immigrant families, despite these families having less access to resources relative to their native-born counterparts.

The share of children in immigrant families living below 200% of the poverty threshold — set at $49,716 in annual earnings for a family of four — has dropped below the 50% mark for the first time since the start of the Great Recession. After peaking at 55% in 2011, this statistic now sits at 48%.

Among immigrant parents who are working, a slightly higher proportion have earned enough to lift their families above the 200% poverty threshold. The percentage of kids living in low-income immigrant families, despite at least one parent working full time, dropped from 36% in 2016 to 34% in 2017.

Despite this improvement, immigrant families are still more likely to struggle to make ends meet compared to their native-born counterparts. Nationwide, this statistic has ranged from 20% to 22% since 2008, landing at 21% in 2017.

Additionally: Every state in the southern United States with a sizeable population of immigrant families reported at least half of these families living below the 200% poverty threshold. The two exceptions in this category were Maryland and Virginia.

California — the state with the highest percentage of children in immigrant families — reports that 47% of its immigrant families are living below the 200% poverty threshold.