Immigrants in the U.S., Number and Percent, 1900-2021 Plus Census Bureau Projections to 2060
An analysis of the Census Bureau’s monthly Current Population Survey (CPS) from November 2021 shows the total immigrant population (legal and illegal) in the U.S. hit 46.2 million, the highest number ever recorded in American history.
Among the findings:
- There were a total of 46.2 million immigrants (legal and illegal) in the country in November 2021. This is the largest number of immigrants ever recorded in any government survey or census going back to 1850.
- As a share of the total U.S. population, immigrants were 14.2 percent in November 2021 — the highest percentage in 111 years. The immigrant share of the population has tripled since 1970 and has come close to doubling since 1990.
- The number of immigrants in the country grew by 1.5 million between November 2020 and November of this year after declining by 1.2 million between February and September 2020 as a result of Covid-19 restrictions.
- In just the last month — October to November 2021 — the total immigrant population increased by 470,000.
- Like the monthly CPS, the Census Bureau’s annual American Community Survey (ACS) from 2020 also shows a significant decline in the immigrant population through mid-2020, though the Bureau reports problems with that survey. Moreover, the ACS only reflects the population in July 2020, not the large increases since mid-2020.
- In comparison to the 1.5 million increase in the immigrant population after Biden’s victory, in the year after Trump’s victory (November 2016 to November 2017) the immigrant population actually fell slightly. The policies and public statements of different administrations seem to matter a great deal.
- Hispanic immigrants accounted for 924,000 or 61 percent of the growth since last November. This is an indication that illegal immigration accounts for a large share of the recent increase in immigrants. The federal government and outside researchers have estimated that nearly three-quarters of illegal immigrants in Census Bureau data are Hispanic.
- Between November 2020 and November 2021, the states with the largest increases in immigrants were Florida (up 615,000), California (up 451,000), Arizona (up 173,000), Wisconsin (up 156,000), and Virginia (up 135,000).