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African-Born Population in U.S. Roughly Doubled Every Decade Since 1970, Census Bureau Reports

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Oct 1, 2014: The foreign-born population from Africa has grown rapidly in the United States during the last 40 years, increasing from about 80,000 in 1970 to about 1.6 million in the period from 2008 to 2012, according to a U.S. Census Bureau brief released today. The population has roughly doubled each decade since 1970, with the largest increase happening from 2000 to 2008-2012.

The Foreign-Born Population from Africa: 2008-2012, a brief based on American Community Survey statistics, shows that the African foreign-born population accounts for 4 percent of the total U.S. foreign-born population. No African country makes up the majority of these immigrants, but four countries — Nigeria, Ethiopia, Egypt and Ghana — make up 41 percent of the African-born total.

“The brief — the Census Bureau’s first focusing on the African foreign-born population — highlights the size, growth, geographic distribution and educational attainment of this group,” said Christine Gambino of the Census Bureau’s Foreign-Born Population Branch, who is one of the brief’s authors. “We have found that the African-born population tends to be more educated and accounts for a relatively large proportion of the foreign-born population in some nontraditional immigrant gateway states such as Minnesota and the Dakotas.”

The foreign-born population from Africa had a higher level of educational attainment than the overall foreign-born population: 41 percent of African-born had a bachelor’s degree or higher compared with 28 percent overall. Within the foreign-born population from Africa, educational attainment varied by place of birth. For example, 40 percent of the Somali-born population had less than a high school education, while 64 percent of Egyptian-born individuals had a bachelor’s degree or higher.

This brief is one of several focusing on the foreign-born population from world regions of birth. Previous reports include “The Foreign Born from Asia: 2011” and “The Foreign Born from Latin America and the Caribbean: 2010.” In addition, supplemental tables are now available for the African-born population by metropolitan statistical area. Below are highlights of the geographic distribution of the African-born population from the brief:

Geographic Distribution
·          The four states with African-born populations over 100,000 were New York (164,000), California (155,000), Texas (134,000) and Maryland (120,000).

·          Of the 10 states with the largest African-born populations, Minnesota (19 percent), Maryland (15 percent), Virginia (9 percent), Georgia (8 percent) and Massachusetts (8 percent) had percentages of African-born in their foreign-born populations that were at least twice the national percentage of 4 percent.

·          Metropolitan areas with the largest African-born populations were New York (212,000), Washington (161,000), Atlanta (68,000), Los Angeles (68,000), Minneapolis-St. Paul (64,000), Dallas-Fort Worth (61,000) and Boston (60,000).

·          Among the 10 metro areas with the largest African-born populations, Nigerians were the most populous group and constituted a high proportion (20 percent or more) of the African-born in the Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston metros.  Similarly, Ethiopians were a high proportion and the largest group in the Washington D.C. metro, Cabo Verdeans in Boston, Somalis in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Egyptians in Los Angeles and Liberians in Philadelphia.