Immigration to Wisconsin
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With 15,000 inland lakes and more than 33,000 miles of rivers and streams, two Great Lakes and the Mississippi River, Wisconsin is a haven for those who enjoy water activities including fishing and boating. The overall geography of Wisconsin includes rolling pastures, farms, and a well-developed network of small and large towns. Wisconsin’s economy is primarily based on the agricultural and industrial sectors. The main agricultural commodities produced include: cheese, dairy products, hogs, cattle, ginseng, corn, cranberries and vegetables. The main industrial sectors include: machinery, paper products, food processing, fabricated metal products, electric equipment and tourism.
Immigration to Wisconsin
As of 2006, it is estimated (FAIR) that the immigrant population of Wisconsin is 241,240 which equates to approximately 4.3 of the state’s population. The majority of immigrants are from Mexico (27.7%), Laos (8.8%) and Germany (7.2%). India, Canada, China (including Hong Kong and Taiwan), Thailand, Korea, U.K. and Poland account for another 23.4% of the immigrants to Wisconsin.
There has been an increase in the foreign-born population both through new immigrant residents in the state as well as through the children born to immigrants. It is estimated that the immigrant population and immigrant births are adding nearly 13,565 persons to Wisconsin every year equating to 44.3% of the state’s overall population increase.
The 2000 Census reports 193,751 immigrant residents in Wisconsin, the 24th highest in the US. This is an increase of 59.4% over the 1990 foreign-born population recorded at 121,547 immigrants. This increase is significantly higher than the 8.4% increase in the native-born population for the state of Wisconsin. An indication of the change in the immigrant population in Wisconsin may be seen from the 2000 Census where the share of non-English speakers at home increased to 7.4% up from 5.8% recorded in 1990. Additionally, 40.4% of those who said they spoke a language other than English at home also said they spoke English less than very well.
Wisconsin’s naturalization rate of 39.3% is slightly lower than the national average of 40.1% based upon data recorded during the 2000 Census. The data collected in the 2000 Census shows a significant drop in the 52.3% naturalization rate recorded 1990, indicating an influx of new immigrants including illegal immigrants. The 2000 Census recorded that 42.6% of Wisconsin residents claim German heritage, making Wisconsin one of the most German states in the nation. The educational level of Wisconsin residents is approximately equal to the US average according to data collected in the 2000 Census.
Educational Summary for Wisconsin
- High school graduate: 85.1% (US Average 80.4%)
- Some college or more: 50.5% (US Average 51.8%)
- Bachelor’s degree or more: 22.4% (US Average 24.4%)
- Advanced degree: 7.2% (US Average 8.9%)
Illegal Immigration to Wisconsin
As of 2007, FAIR estimates the state’s illegal alien population at about 90,000 persons which equates to approximately 1.6 percent of the overall population. The annual fiscal cost to Wisconsin taxpayers for emergency medical care, education and incarceration projected by FAIR is currently $249 million and is estimated to rise to $425 million per year in 2010 and $738 million per year in 2020.
Wisconsin Immigration Statistics
- Wisconsin’s immigrant population increased by nearly 25% between 2000 and 2006
- In 2005, housing authorities reported over 34,000 of Wisconsin households as crowded or severely crowded. Studies by the Urban Institute in 2001 indicate a rise in crowded housing often correlates with an increase in the number of immigrant residents
- According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2007 Wisconsin’s unemployment rate is 5%, equal to the national average