US immigrants lead the best lives in these American cities, new study shows

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Nearly 14% of the U.S. population, or 46.2 million residents, is foreign-born. However, where immigrants settle down can have a considerable impact on their available opportunities.

And according to LendingTree chief credit analyst Matt Schulz, it’s all about opportunity.

“A thriving community might have more companies that are hiring, more chances for people to improve their skills and knowledge and other opportunities that can make a real difference in people’s financial lives,” he says. “For immigrants, it can expand their opportunities even further. It can help lessen the impact of the language barrier. It could even mean greater access to lenders willing to extend them credit. It can have a positive impact in countless ways.”

We looked at nine metrics — from population and housing costs to unemployment and poverty — to rank where immigrants thrive the most. Here’s what we found.

  • Foreign-born residents thrive the most in Raleigh, N.C. This North Carolina metro has the fourth-highest percentage of immigrants 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher (51.2%) and the fourth-lowest percentage of the foreign-born population living below the poverty level (9.8%). Jacksonville, Fla., and Atlanta are second and third.
  • Florida metros account for six of the 10 largest immigrant population increases in the past 10 years. Those six are Lakeland, Orlando, Cape Coral, Jacksonville, Port St. Lucie and Tampa. These Florida metros saw at least a 40.0% foreign-born population jump between 2013 and 2022.
  • Miami has the highest percentage of foreign-born residents. 42.3% of the metro’s population are immigrants, followed by San Jose, Calif. (40.7%), and Los Angeles (32.4%). These three metros are spread out in our overall rankings at No. 8 (San Jose), No. 48 (Miami) and No. 64 (Los Angeles).
  • Immigrants thrive the least in Fresno, Calif. Fresno has the second-highest unemployment rate among the 16-or-older foreign-born population at 4.5% and the third-lowest percentage of immigrants 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher at 16.6%. Bakersfield, Calif., and New Orleans round out the bottom three.
  • Pittsburgh has the smallest percentage of immigrants among the analyzed metros. Just 3.9% of people in the Pennsylvania metro are foreign-born, ahead of St. Louis (4.6%) and Cincinnati (5.5%). Meanwhile, four California metros are among the 10 with the largest decreases in the immigrant population in the past 10 years. Those four are Los Angeles, San Diego, Oxnard and Bakersfield.

Who’s part of the foreign-born population?

The U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey defines the foreign-born population (also referenced as immigrants in this study) as individuals who weren’t U.S. citizens at birth. This population also includes those who obtained U.S. citizenship through naturalization.

Across the nine metrics analyzed, we found that foreign-born residents thrive the most in Raleigh. Most notably, Raleigh has the fourth-highest percentage of immigrants 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher at 51.2%.

The colleges in and around Raleigh may play a role. North Carolina’s capital is home to North Carolina State University, and Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are within an hour’s drive. Foreign-born individuals accounted for 18.3% of Duke’s student body and 6.1% of UNC’s as of 2020, according to a 2023 Carolina Population Center report.

“A bachelor’s degree can improve your financial outlook in a big way,” Schulz says. “It doesn’t always work that way, especially if you have to take on massive debt and are entering a relatively low-paying field, but there’s no question your degree can have a major positive impact. It can boost your earnings potential. It can expand your knowledge base and your skill set. It can also help you make connections that others may lack. People love networking with fellow alumni, for example, and those sorts of ties can open doors that can make a huge difference.”

Raleigh also has the fourth-lowest percentage of the foreign-born population living below 100% of the poverty level (9.8%). Of course, high educational attainment affects this, as those with a bachelor’s degree or higher are significantly less likely to live below the poverty level.

3 metros where immigrants thrive the most

Rank Metro % of population that is foreign-born Change in population, 2013 to 2022 % of population 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher Housing cost as a % of the median household income % of population with earnings of 75K or more Homeownership rate Unemployment rate, 16 and older % of self-employed workers 16 and older % of population below 100% of the poverty level
1 Raleigh, NC 13.2% 40.6% 51.2% 17.1% 43.2% 63.6% 2.2% 6.7% 9.8%
2 Jacksonville, FL 10.2% 51.1% 38.7% 20.3% 30.0% 65.6% 2.0% 9.6% 8.9%
3 Atlanta, GA 14.6% 23.2% 42.1% 20.8% 34.5% 64.1% 2.1% 8.8% 10.5%

Source: LendingTree analysis of U.S. Census Bureau 2022 American Community Survey with one-year estimates data. Note: Metrics are specific to the foreign-born population, but we simplified the column headers for space (see the methodology for specifics).

Jacksonville ranks second — most notably, it has the second-lowest percentage of immigrants living below 100% of the poverty level, at 8.9%. This metro also saw the fifth-biggest change in its foreign-born population (though more on that below). Further, Jacksonville ranks 11th in homeownership rates: Among the foreign-born population, 65.6% are homeowners.

Atlanta rounds out the top three. More specifically, Atlanta has the ninth-lowest rate of foreign-born residents living below 100% of the poverty level, at 10.5%. Atlanta is also 16th for its percentage of immigrant residents who are homeowners (64.1%) and 20th for its percentage of foreign-born residents 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher (42.1%).

Some other notable findings include:

  • Pittsburgh has the highest percentage of immigrants with a bachelor’s degree or higher (61.8%) and the lowest housing costs as a percentage of the median foreign-born household income (12.8%).
  • San Jose has the highest percentage of immigrants earning $75,000 or more (63.6%) and the lowest percentage of foreign-born residents living below 100% of the poverty level (7.5%).
  • Grand Rapids, Mich., is the only metro analyzed with an unemployment rate among immigrants under 1.0%, with just 0.5% of immigrants in the metro unemployed.
  • McAllen, Texas, has the highest percentage of self-employed immigrants ages 16 and older (23.1%).

Full rankings

Rank Metro % of population that is foreign-born Change in population, 2013 to 2022 % of population 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher Housing cost as a % of the median household income % of population with earnings of 75K or more Homeownership rate Unemployment rate, 16 and older % of self-employed workers 16 and older % of population below 100% of the poverty level Total score
1 Raleigh, NC 13.2% 40.6% 51.2% 17.1% 43.2% 63.6% 2.2% 6.7% 9.8% 100.0
2 Jacksonville, FL 10.2% 51.1% 38.7% 20.3% 30.0% 65.6% 2.0% 9.6% 8.9% 93.8
3 Atlanta, GA 14.6% 23.2% 42.1% 20.8% 34.5% 64.1% 2.1% 8.8% 10.5% 92.0
4 Austin, TX 15.9% 37.1% 49.0% 22.3% 43.3% 58.3% 2.0% 8.2% 12.3% 90.8
5 Seattle, WA 20.7% 33.0% 50.6% 20.3% 53.9% 56.3% 2.2% 6.3% 9.4% 89.3
6 Washington, DC 24.1% 17.2% 47.6% 22.9% 44.9% 59.8% 2.6% 8.2% 9.8% 89.0
7 Charlotte, NC 11.1% 35.0% 38.9% 18.8% 32.8% 61.2% 2.0% 8.1% 12.7% 84.5
8 Detroit, MI 10.3% 11.8% 43.5% 18.0% 45.6% 69.0% 2.0% 7.0% 15.4% 81.0
8 San Jose, CA 40.7% 9.6% 57.7% 20.1% 63.6% 53.2% 2.1% 5.3% 7.5% 81.0
10 Baltimore, MD 11.5% 28.1% 51.6% 20.9% 43.1% 62.6% 2.6% 5.6% 11.7% 77.5
11 Durham, NC 11.1% 16.8% 45.3% 19.9% 30.9% 57.7% 2.0% 8.9% 13.3% 74.5
12 North Port, FL 13.2% 28.3% 36.0% 24.0% 23.2% 70.6% 2.2% 10.7% 12.1% 74.0
13 San Francisco, CA 31.6% 8.1% 48.2% 24.1% 56.0% 55.3% 2.4% 7.4% 10.4% 73.5
14 Virginia Beach, VA 6.5% 8.8% 41.9% 22.8% 33.3% 64.8% 1.7% 9.9% 12.0% 72.8
15 Cleveland, OH 5.9% 6.1% 46.1% 19.7% 33.4% 67.1% 1.6% 8.8% 15.1% 72.0
16 Dallas, TX 18.9% 25.9% 35.8% 23.6% 29.9% 59.2% 2.3% 8.8% 11.0% 71.3
17 Nashville, TN 8.8% 36.6% 35.2% 20.0% 26.5% 55.7% 1.8% 11.6% 13.6% 67.5
17 Philadelphia, PA 11.8% 22.0% 43.0% 21.4% 38.4% 60.4% 3.0% 7.0% 13.1% 67.5
19 Cincinnati, OH 5.5% 33.5% 48.0% 16.3% 41.1% 56.6% 3.0% 6.1% 10.7% 67.0
20 Orlando, FL 20.7% 58.0% 38.0% 28.1% 23.2% 59.0% 2.1% 8.1% 13.9% 65.3
21 Richmond, VA 7.9% 27.7% 42.8% 18.4% 36.6% 58.6% 2.6% 5.7% 13.1% 65.0
22 Hartford, CT 14.5% 15.0% 36.9% 21.7% 37.6% 58.9% 2.6% 6.2% 11.8% 63.5
23 St. Louis, MO 4.6% 5.6% 50.7% 17.3% 36.4% 58.6% 1.9% 6.0% 13.9% 62.8
24 Chicago, IL 18.1% 0.9% 35.8% 22.3% 32.7% 65.0% 2.4% 6.4% 11.4% 61.5
25 Memphis, TN 5.8% 12.7% 42.3% 17.7% 28.2% 56.9% 2.2% 12.0% 14.1% 61.0
26 Stockton, CA 25.2% 23.4% 22.3% 23.4% 34.4% 63.3% 4.0% 7.4% 11.3% 59.8
27 New Haven, CT 14.2% 27.0% 34.7% 22.0% 34.1% 58.3% 2.9% 6.3% 11.7% 59.5
28 Sacramento, CA 19.1% 14.4% 33.2% 25.5% 35.9% 59.5% 2.6% 8.4% 13.5% 59.0
29 Tampa, FL 15.7% 42.9% 33.7% 24.4% 26.2% 64.7% 2.3% 7.6% 15.7% 58.3
30 Fayetteville, AR 12.0% 30.9% 29.5% 19.4% 22.8% 53.8% 2.0% 15.5% 17.0% 57.3
31 Rochester, NY 6.1% -5.8% 42.9% 18.9% 34.6% 63.9% 1.9% 5.9% 14.5% 56.8
32 Grand Rapids, MI 6.9% 22.8% 27.1% 17.8% 21.2% 60.1% 0.5% 5.6% 11.7% 56.0
33 Phoenix, AZ 14.1% 11.5% 28.3% 23.3% 25.6% 63.8% 2.0% 7.9% 13.9% 55.3
34 Boston, MA 20.1% 21.4% 43.2% 27.5% 44.0% 47.7% 2.6% 6.1% 12.5% 54.8
35 Houston, TX 23.9% 23.5% 32.4% 24.5% 29.5% 59.5% 2.9% 9.0% 16.3% 54.0
35 Pittsburgh, PA 3.9% 2.2% 61.8% 12.8% 49.0% 54.0% 2.0% 5.0% 14.6% 54.0
37 Bridgeport, CT 22.7% 7.1% 38.1% 29.1% 39.9% 55.8% 4.0% 11.6% 12.8% 52.5
37 Portland, OR 12.3% 5.4% 37.8% 23.4% 36.3% 58.0% 3.0% 7.8% 10.7% 52.5
39 Riverside, CA 21.8% 9.0% 21.3% 26.4% 25.7% 66.9% 2.4% 8.3% 12.3% 52.3
40 Tucson, AZ 11.8% -2.4% 31.0% 21.5% 21.7% 66.8% 2.0% 10.0% 16.7% 51.8
41 Worcester, MA 13.0% 20.5% 39.0% 22.0% 39.4% 54.0% 3.2% 6.5% 13.8% 50.0
42 Allentown, PA 11.5% 49.2% 33.1% 21.4% 29.6% 61.4% 4.0% 5.3% 13.4% 49.0
42 Oxnard, CA 22.5% -1.9% 28.8% 29.5% 30.7% 58.4% 2.6% 8.3% 10.1% 49.0
44 Cape Coral, FL 19.1% 53.2% 23.5% 28.4% 13.4% 65.8% 2.4% 8.8% 16.7% 48.3
45 Honolulu, HI 18.8% 0.5% 30.9% 26.2% 27.8% 57.0% 2.0% 7.6% 11.8% 48.0
46 Kansas City, MO 6.8% 11.2% 36.8% 19.5% 28.6% 56.3% 2.2% 5.9% 12.0% 46.5
47 San Diego, CA 22.3% -4.0% 36.1% 30.4% 36.5% 50.4% 2.7% 8.9% 12.0% 45.3
48 Albany, NY 8.0% 11.2% 46.8% 19.0% 41.4% 57.8% 3.3% 2.1% 14.3% 45.0
48 Miami, FL 42.3% 14.7% 32.0% 30.4% 22.5% 55.2% 2.2% 10.6% 14.7% 45.0
50 Denver, CO 12.0% 10.9% 34.1% 23.9% 33.4% 58.2% 2.9% 5.9% 10.1% 44.8
50 Milwaukee, WI 7.6% 7.6% 36.9% 19.9% 31.9% 56.5% 1.7% 4.3% 14.1% 44.8
52 Indianapolis, IN 8.8% 48.1% 35.6% 19.2% 25.6% 55.4% 2.6% 4.1% 13.5% 44.3
53 Salt Lake City, UT 12.9% 21.2% 28.4% 22.5% 23.0% 55.2% 2.3% 6.9% 11.8% 44.0
54 San Antonio, TX 11.5% 15.4% 28.7% 26.1% 22.2% 58.4% 1.9% 13.3% 17.7% 43.8
55 Columbus, OH 9.8% 51.5% 41.6% 22.3% 31.2% 46.8% 2.3% 5.2% 15.9% 42.3
56 Buffalo, NY 6.8% 15.8% 41.1% 20.8% 29.2% 57.3% 2.1% 6.4% 23.0% 41.5
57 Des Moines, IA 9.3% 40.4% 33.0% 21.7% 30.6% 61.2% 3.4% 6.5% 19.3% 41.0
58 Oklahoma City, OK 7.9% 5.0% 27.0% 21.4% 19.2% 57.5% 2.0% 11.7% 15.6% 39.0
59 Port St. Lucie, FL 15.3% 42.9% 26.8% 23.3% 17.6% 75.7% 4.8% 6.9% 17.1% 38.5
60 Las Vegas, NV 21.8% 14.6% 24.0% 25.6% 18.1% 59.3% 2.5% 6.8% 13.5% 37.5
61 Omaha, NE 7.7% 18.9% 31.4% 22.2% 22.4% 51.5% 1.2% 6.6% 14.6% 36.8
62 Lakeland, FL 12.5% 62.4% 22.4% 23.6% 12.8% 64.9% 3.0% 7.4% 19.1% 36.5
63 New York, NY 29.8% 2.8% 36.1% 28.3% 38.5% 43.4% 3.3% 7.1% 14.2% 35.3
64 Los Angeles, CA 32.4% -5.0% 29.6% 31.7% 31.7% 45.7% 2.6% 11.4% 14.6% 35.0
65 Albuquerque, NM 9.2% -5.5% 25.7% 22.9% 23.4% 67.9% 2.9% 11.2% 16.6% 34.8
66 El Paso, TX 23.8% -5.8% 18.9% 26.9% 19.4% 66.4% 2.3% 9.3% 24.2% 33.3
67 Greensboro, NC 8.9% 15.6% 30.4% 18.6% 26.3% 63.1% 3.1% 5.3% 23.4% 31.5
68 McAllen, TX 26.3% -1.0% 16.7% 25.1% 14.9% 67.2% 3.4% 23.1% 31.7% 31.3
69 Minneapolis, MN 10.8% 18.6% 38.3% 23.0% 32.3% 53.8% 3.2% 5.4% 14.6% 31.0
70 Providence, RI 14.2% 16.0% 22.8% 24.1% 26.5% 52.6% 2.1% 5.3% 14.9% 27.3
71 Louisville, KY 6.2% 27.2% 38.8% 19.7% 22.3% 51.4% 3.1% 6.0% 20.5% 25.3
71 Reno, NV 13.8% 6.8% 22.4% 23.3% 18.9% 58.3% 2.8% 3.9% 10.7% 25.3
73 Tulsa, OK 7.1% 26.7% 23.1% 21.6% 16.0% 55.9% 2.8% 8.4% 18.7% 24.8
74 Modesto, CA 20.9% 7.9% 12.6% 27.4% 19.2% 59.6% 3.8% 6.8% 14.0% 21.5
75 New Orleans, LA 7.1% -3.1% 30.3% 24.2% 20.3% 58.9% 4.4% 16.3% 21.1% 15.8
76 Bakersfield, CA 19.1% -1.4% 14.2% 26.2% 20.2% 58.3% 3.3% 7.5% 19.3% 12.8
77 Fresno, CA 19.8% 0.9% 16.6% 29.1% 20.3% 49.0% 4.5% 7.3% 21.2% 0.0

Source: LendingTree analysis of U.S. Census Bureau 2022 American Community Survey with one-year estimates data. Notes: Only metros with full data available across the nine metrics analyzed were included. Metrics are specific to the foreign-born population, but we simplified the column headers for space (see the methodology for specifics).

In the past 10 years, Sunshine State metros have seen the biggest increases in their foreign-born populations. In fact, Florida metros account for six of the 10 largest increases in the immigrant population between 2013 and 2022. Those six are Lakeland, Orlando, Cape Coral, Jacksonville, Port St. Lucie and Tampa.

These Florida metros saw a foreign-born population jump of at least 40.0% between 2013 and 2022, with the population in Lakeland jumping 62.4%.

Also worth noting: Port St. Lucie has the highest homeownership rate among immigrants, with 75.7% of its foreign-born population owning homes. Cape Coral is also among the top 10 here at 65.8%. Not far from that, Jacksonville ranks 11th and Tampa ranks 15th.

10 metros with the biggest foreign-born population increases

Rank Metro % of population that is foreign-born Foreign-born population change, 2013 to 2022
1 Lakeland, FL 12.5% 62.4%
2 Orlando, FL 20.7% 58.0%
3 Cape Coral, FL 19.1% 53.2%
4 Columbus, OH 9.8% 51.5%
5 Jacksonville, FL 10.2% 51.1%
6 Allentown, PA 11.5% 49.2%
7 Indianapolis, IN 8.8% 48.1%
8 Port St. Lucie, FL 15.3% 42.9%
8 Tampa, FL 15.7% 42.9%
10 Raleigh, NC 13.2% 40.6%

Source: LendingTree analysis of U.S. Census Bureau 2022 American Community Survey with one-year estimates data.

Generally, though, why does Florida dominate the top 10? Geographical proximity could impact this, with Florida the closest state to Caribbean Basin countries. According to a 2020 American Immigration Council analysis, 23% of Florida’s immigrants are from Cuba and 8% are from Haiti.

Of course, a growing immigrant population may also be part of a larger trend. Florida in 2022 was the nation’s fastest-growing state for the first time since 1957, according to U.S. Census Bureau Vintage population estimates. Between 2021 and 2022, Florida’s population increased by 1.9%, surpassing Idaho.

Full rankings

Metros with the biggest foreign-born population increases/decreases

Rank Metro % of population that is foreign-born Foreign-born population change, 2013 to 2022
1 Lakeland, FL 12.5% 62.4%
2 Orlando, FL 20.7% 58.0%
3 Cape Coral, FL 19.1% 53.2%
4 Columbus, OH 9.8% 51.5%
5 Jacksonville, FL 10.2% 51.1%
6 Allentown, PA 11.5% 49.2%
7 Indianapolis, IN 8.8% 48.1%
8 Port St. Lucie, FL 15.3% 42.9%
8 Tampa, FL 15.7% 42.9%
10 Raleigh, NC 13.2% 40.6%
11 Des Moines, IA 9.3% 40.4%
12 Austin, TX 15.9% 37.1%
13 Nashville, TN 8.8% 36.6%
14 Charlotte, NC 11.1% 35.0%
15 Cincinnati, OH 5.5% 33.5%
16 Seattle, WA 20.7% 33.0%
17 Fayetteville, AR 12.0% 30.9%
18 North Port, FL 13.2% 28.3%
19 Baltimore, MD 11.5% 28.1%
20 Richmond, VA 7.9% 27.7%
21 Louisville, KY 6.2% 27.2%
22 New Haven, CT 14.2% 27.0%
23 Tulsa, OK 7.1% 26.7%
24 Dallas, TX 18.9% 25.9%
25 Houston, TX 23.9% 23.5%
26 Stockton, CA 25.2% 23.4%
27 Atlanta, GA 14.6% 23.2%
28 Grand Rapids, MI 6.9% 22.8%
29 Philadelphia, PA 11.8% 22.0%
30 Boston, MA 20.1% 21.4%
31 Salt Lake City, UT 12.9% 21.2%
32 Worcester, MA 13.0% 20.5%
33 Omaha, NE 7.7% 18.9%
34 Minneapolis, MN 10.8% 18.6%
35 Washington, DC 24.1% 17.2%
36 Durham, NC 11.1% 16.8%
37 Providence, RI 14.2% 16.0%
38 Buffalo, NY 6.8% 15.8%
39 Greensboro, NC 8.9% 15.6%
40 San Antonio, TX 11.5% 15.4%
41 Hartford, CT 14.5% 15.0%
42 Miami, FL 42.3% 14.7%
43 Las Vegas, NV 21.8% 14.6%
44 Sacramento, CA 19.1% 14.4%
45 Memphis, TN 5.8% 12.7%
46 Detroit, MI 10.3% 11.8%
47 Phoenix, AZ 14.1% 11.5%
48 Albany, NY 8.0% 11.2%
48 Kansas City, MO 6.8% 11.2%
50 Denver, CO 12.0% 10.9%
51 San Jose, CA 40.7% 9.6%
52 Riverside, CA 21.8% 9.0%
53 Virginia Beach, VA 6.5% 8.8%
54 San Francisco, CA 31.6% 8.1%
55 Modesto, CA 20.9% 7.9%
56 Milwaukee, WI 7.6% 7.6%
57 Bridgeport, CT 22.7% 7.1%
58 Reno, NV 13.8% 6.8%
59 Cleveland, OH 5.9% 6.1%
60 St. Louis, MO 4.6% 5.6%
61 Portland, OR 12.3% 5.4%
62 Oklahoma City, OK 7.9% 5.0%
63 New York, NY 29.8% 2.8%
64 Pittsburgh, PA 3.9% 2.2%
65 Chicago, IL 18.1% 0.9%
65 Fresno, CA 19.8% 0.9%
67 Honolulu, HI 18.8% 0.5%
68 McAllen, TX 26.3% -1.0%
69 Bakersfield, CA 19.1% -1.4%
70 Oxnard, CA 22.5% -1.9%
71 Tucson, AZ 11.8% -2.4%
72 New Orleans, LA 7.1% -3.1%
73 San Diego, CA 22.3% -4.0%
74 Los Angeles, CA 32.4% -5.0%
75 Albuquerque, NM 9.2% -5.5%
76 El Paso, TX 23.8% -5.8%
76 Rochester, NY 6.1% -5.8%

Source: LendingTree analysis of U.S. Census Bureau 2022 American Community Survey with one-year estimates data. Note: Only metros with full data available across the nine metrics analyzed were included.

When it comes to the metro with the largest share of immigrants, the Sunshine State shines again. Miami ranks highest here, with foreign-born residents making up 42.3% of the metro’s population. The reasons mentioned above likely play the largest role in Miami’s rankings.

Overall, it’s worth noting that Miami ranks only 48th for thriving immigrants. Although 42.3% of Miami’s population are immigrants, the metro ties with San Diego for the second-highest housing costs as a percentage of median household income (30.4%).

5 metros with the highest percentage of foreign-born residents

Rank Metro % of population that is foreign-born
1 Miami, FL 42.3%
2 San Jose, CA 40.7%
3 Los Angeles, CA 32.4%
4 San Francisco, CA 31.6%
5 New York, NY 29.8%

Source: LendingTree analysis of U.S. Census Bureau 2022 American Community Survey with one-year estimates data.

Miami is followed by San Jose (40.7%), which ranks eighth across all our metrics; San Jose is followed by Los Angeles (32.4%), which ranks at 64th overall. Also worth noting, Los Angeles has the highest housing costs (31.7%) and experienced a 5.0% decrease in its foreign-born population between 2013 and 2022.

Both of these California metros may be appealing due to the job opportunities available — particularly in the technology sector for San Jose, which is part of Silicon Valley. Further, historical ties may also play a role. San Jose, where 67.5% of the foreign-born population was born in Asia, has been a popular destination for Vietnamese immigrants since the end of the Vietnam War. As of 2019, the metro tied with Houston for the second-largest Vietnamese population in the U.S., according to Pew Research Center — meaning strong cultural ties may also attract immigrants to San Jose.

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, location may be a factor. California borders Mexico, and as one of the largest southernmost metros in the state, it may not be surprising that 55.8% of foreign-born residents in Los Angeles were born in Latin America. Most notably, Mexican Americans in Los Angeles also have strong historical and cultural ties to the region.

While Los Angeles and San Jose are popular California metros for immigration, foreign-born residents thrive the least in Fresno. Of note, Fresno has the second-highest unemployment rate among immigrants 16 or older, at 4.5%. According to Schulz, however, this is part of a larger problem throughout Fresno.

“Unemployment isn’t just high for the foreign-born population of Fresno; it’s high for everyone there,” he says. “That makes the already challenging financial situation that many immigrants face just that much worse. For most people, financial security begins with a good job. If you don’t have one, things get pretty dicey in a hurry. It can shift your outlook from one of growth and advancement to one of survival.”

Also worth noting, Fresno has the third-lowest percentage of immigrants 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher, at 16.6%.

3 metros where immigrants thrive the least

Rank Metro % of population that is foreign-born Change in population, 2013 to 2022 % of population 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher Housing cost as a % of the median household income % of population with earnings of 75K or more Homeownership rate Unemployment rate, 16 and older % of self-employed workers 16 and older % of population below 100% of the poverty level
1 Fresno, CA 19.8% 0.9% 16.6% 29.1% 20.3% 49.0% 4.5% 7.3% 21.2%
2 Bakersfield, CA 19.1% -1.4% 14.2% 26.2% 20.2% 58.3% 3.3% 7.5% 19.3%
3 New Orleans, LA 7.1% -3.1% 30.3% 24.2% 20.3% 58.9% 4.4% 16.3% 21.1%

Source: LendingTree analysis of U.S. Census Bureau 2022 American Community Survey with one-year estimates data. Note: Metrics are specific to the foreign-born population, but we simplified the column headers for space (see the methodology for specifics).

Bakersfield and New Orleans round out the bottom three. Notably, both metros experienced a decline in their immigrant population between 2013 and 2022, with New Orleans seeing the sixth-largest decline (3.1%) and Bakersfield seeing the ninth-largest (1.4%). In addition, Bakersfield has the second-lowest percentage of immigrants with a bachelor’s degree or higher (14.2%), while New Orleans has the third-highest unemployment rate among immigrants 16 and older (4.4%).

When it comes to population, Pittsburgh has the smallest percentage of immigrants among the metros, as just 3.9% are foreign-born. Following that, St. Louis (4.6%) and Cincinnati (5.5%) have the smallest immigrant populations.

Meanwhile, four California metros are among the 10 with the largest decreases in the immigrant population in the past 10 years. Those include Los Angeles (5.0%), San Diego (4.0%), Oxnard (1.9%) and Bakersfield (1.4%).

10 metros with the biggest foreign-born population decreases

Rank Metro % of population that is foreign-born Foreign-born population change, 2013 to 2022
1 El Paso, TX 23.8% -5.8%
1 Rochester, NY 6.1% -5.8%
3 Albuquerque, NM 9.2% -5.5%
4 Los Angeles, CA 32.4% -5.0%
5 San Diego, CA 22.3% -4.0%
6 New Orleans, LA 7.1% -3.1%
7 Tucson, AZ 11.8% -2.4%
8 Oxnard, CA 22.5% -1.9%
9 Bakersfield, CA 19.1% -1.4%
10 McAllen, TX 26.3% -1.0%

Source: LendingTree analysis of U.S. Census Bureau 2022 American Community Survey with one-year estimates data.

The American dream may seem appealing for many, but immigration often comes with challenges — particularly financial ones, Schulz says.

“The financial hurdles facing immigrants can seem insurmountable,” he says. “The language barrier could be the biggest of them all, but it’s far from the only one. For example, they may not be able to get credit, leaving them with little choice but to opt for less-savory options like payday loans. That’s a really big deal.”

For those looking to overcome these financial hurdles, Schulz recommends the following:

  • Seek help. “If you’re struggling, there are groups out there that want to help,” he says. “Whether they’re government organizations, religious organizations or other types of businesses and groups, a Google search can help you find some type of assistance if you’re willing to ask for it.”
  • Consider a secured credit card. “The lack of access to credit can be maddening, especially if you were well-established financially in your previous country of residence,” Schulz says. “A secured credit card can be a good way to start. That’s because it’s typically far easier to get than most regular credit cards because you generally only have to put a security deposit down to get it. You’ll need to find out more about the particular card issuer’s requirements, such as whether they require a Social Security number or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), but a secured credit card could be a good first step.”

LendingTree researchers analyzed U.S. Census Bureau 2022 American Community Survey with one-year estimates data — the latest available — to determine where the foreign-born population thrives the most.

Our study ranks the 77 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) with full data available across our nine metrics:

  • Percentage of population that is foreign-born
  • Change in foreign-born population, 2013 to 2022
  • Percentage of the foreign-born population 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher
  • Housing cost as a percentage of median household income among foreign-born householders in the past 12 months (in 2022 inflation-adjusted dollars)
  • Percentage of the foreign-born population with earnings of $75,000 or more in the past 12 months (in 2022 inflation-adjusted dollars)
  • Homeownership rate among foreign-born population
  • Unemployment rate among foreign-born population, 16 and older
  • Percentage of foreign-born self-employed workers 16 and older in own not incorporated business
  • Percentage of the foreign-born population below 100% of the poverty level

All nine metrics were weighted equally to determine the overall rankings.

Source

This article originally appeared on LendingTree and was syndicated by MediaFeed.

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This article originally appeared on LendingTree and was syndicated by MediaFeed.

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