This report presents data on the foreign-born population at the national and state levels based on the 2009 American Community Survey (ACS). During the last four decades, the foreign-born population of the United States has continued to increase in size and as a percent of the total population: from 9.6 million or 4.7 percent in 1970, to 14.1 million or 6.2 percent in 1980, 19.8 million or 7.9 percent in 1990, and 31.1 million or 11.1 percent in 2000. According to the 2009 ACS, there were 38.5 million foreign-born residents, representing 12.5 percent of the total population. While the number of foreign born represents a historical high, the proportion of the total population is lower than during the great migration of the late 1800s and early 1900s, when it fluctuated between 13 percent and 15 percent. But more notable than the growth of the foreign-born population is the change in the distribution of origin countries over time.
In 1960, 75 percent of the foreign born were from countries in Europe. By 2009, over 80 percent of the foreign born were from countries in Latin America and Asia. Also since 1960, the foreign born increasingly have settled in states beyond the traditional gateway states of New York, California, Texas, Florida, and Illinois. This report will discuss the size, country of origin, and distribution of the foreign-born population in 2009.
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