18 Oct 2011

The Brookings Institution in the U.S. recently reported on data from the Census Bureau’s 2010 American Community Survey which highlighted changing immigrant demographics in metropolitan American city regions over the past ten years. The report highlights the continued strong growth in foreign born populations in the U.S. (an increase of 8.8 million between 2000 and 2010), although this is a drop from the 1990 to 2000 period.

The report goes on to note the changing immigrant settlement patterns in metropolitan America. There has been a gradual shift from immigrants settling in city centres towards new and growing metropolitan areas as well as more suburban locations on the outskirts of cities. According to the report, "in 2010, 51 percent of immigrants nationwide lived in the suburbs of large metropolitan areas, up from 48 percent in 2000.  Immigrants within the largest metro areas remain somewhat less likely to live in the suburbs (61 percent) than overall population (69 percent)."

The data suggests that immigrant settlement patterns became less concentrated as the five U.S. metro areas with the largest number of immigrants saw a decrease in foreign born population, from 43 percent in 2000 to 38 percent in 2010. 

This coincided with a gain of at least 100,000 immigrants in twenty-one metropolitan areas between 2000 and 2010. Many doubled their immigrant population in the 2000s as populations became more spatially dispersed.

The report concludes with both optimism and pessimism by noting "the outcome is increased racial, ethnic, and linguistic diversity in the suburbs. Some places are embracing this phenomenon; others are resisting it and deflecting immigrants through punitive legislation." For more information on the report (from which the above map and tables are taken) and an interactive map that explores change in immigrant population in the largest 100 U.S. metropolitan areas click here.