Boston’s Immigrant Population Is Growing By Leaps and Bounds

Newcomers to the city generated enough economic activity that they created over 15,000 jobs in the region.

Naturalization ceremony at Faneuil Hall in 2015

Naturalization ceremony at Faneuil Hall in 2015 (Photo via AP)

Boston has always been a landing spot for immigrants, but a new report from the Boston Redevelopment Authority found the number of newcomers to the city has increased by 19.2 percent in the last 15 years.

The report, Boston By The Numbers 2015, dives into the demographics of the fast-growing city. Immigrants and foreign-born residents account for 27.2 percent of the city’s population, meaning Boston has the seventh highest share of foreign-born residents of the 25 largest cities in the country. Over half of Boston children live with at least one foreign-born parent.

In days-gone-by, Boston’s foreign-born population hailed from Europe, with the bulk coming from Ireland and Italy, but today the newcomers hail overwhelmingly from Asia, the Caribbean, and South and Central America.  Nearly a quarter of Boston’s foreign-born residents came from China and the Dominican Republic.

Boston Immigrants' Countries of Origin

Boston Redevelopment Authority Boston by the Number 2015

Spanish is overwhelmingly the most common non-English language spoken in Boston homes, with 16.3 percent of residents using it as their main language. Chinese and French/French Creole are the next two most popular languages in Boston, with 4.6 percent and 4.2 percent of residents speaking them, respectively.

While 45.9 percent of Boston residents have a bachelor’s degree or more, roughly one third of foreign-born Boston residents have reached that level of education.

Of course, all of these newcomers have to live somewhere. East Boston is the only neighborhood in the entire city where more than half of the population, 50.5 percent, is composed of foreign-born residents.  No neighborhoods in the city came anywhere close to East Boston’s makeup. Mattapan, Dorchester, and Downtown Boston count roughly a third of their residents as foreign-born.

Employment of Boston's Immigrants

Boston Redevelopment Authority, Boston by the Numbers 2015

Contrary to the popular and discredited myths that immigrants just come to the United States to mooch off the welfare-state, Boston’s foreign-born workers generated over $3.4 billion in expenditures in 2014, contributing $2.3 billion to the region’s gross product, and paid roughly $116 million in state and local taxes. The BRA estimates that foreign-born Bostonians created 15,000 jobs in the region.