Researchers: 1 in 9 Virginians Born Outside U.S., Account For 15 Percent of State Workforce

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File photo of newborn children in a nursery. (Photo by DESHAKALYAN CHOWDHURY/AFP/Getty Images)

The financial crisis that followed the collapse of U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers in 2008 did more than wipe out billions in wealth and millions of jobs. It also sent birth rates tumbling around the world as couples found themselves too short of money or too fearful about their finances to have children. Six years later, birth rates haven’t bounced back. (Photo by DESHAKALYAN CHOWDHURY/AFP/Getty Images)

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Virginia’s foreign-born population grew from one in 100 in 1970 to one in nine in 2012, University of Virginia researchers said Tuesday.

More than 40 percent of Virginia’s foreign-born population is in the 25 to 44 age group, compared to less than 30 percent of the native-born population, according to a census brief released by the Weldon Cooper for Public Service’s Demographics Research Group.

The foreign-born population now comprises 15 percent of the state’s workforce, researchers said.

“Since 25-44 is the golden age for participating in the workforce, prosperous employment opportunities likely explains the growing presence of immigrants in Virginia,” the brief states.

Seventy-three percent of Virginia’s foreign-born working-age adults are in the state’s workforce, compared to 65 percent of native-born working-age adults. Immigrant occupations include computer software engineers, managers, cashiers, accountants and auditors, and retail salespeople.

El Salvador is the top country of birth for immigrants to Virginia, followed by India, Mexico, the Philippines and South Korea,

Countries of birth are more diverse today than they were in the early 1900s, when most immigrants came from Europe. Forty-two percent of Virginia’s immigrants now come from Asia while 35 percent come from Latin America. Ten percent are from Europe and 10 percent are from Africa, the brief states.

The Northern Virginia metropolitan statistical area, or MSA, is home to almost 70 percent of Virginia’s foreign-born population, which makes up a quarter of the region’s population. Eleven percent of foreign-born residents live in the Hampton Roads MSA and almost 10 percent live in the Richmond MSA.

“Foreign-born Virginians and their children contribute to diversity in Virginia,” Qian Cai, director of the Demographics Research Group, said in a news release. “Culture, customs, languages and cuisines from other countries are increasingly a part of the template of life in the commonwealth.”

Almost one-fifth of children under age 19 who were born in Virginia have at least one parent who was born outside the United States, said researcher Shonel Sen, who prepared the brief.

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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