Study: Black Immigrants Earn More than U.S.-Born Blacks

As the black population in the United States grows, the diversity in the black community is unprecedented. According to research by Nielsen, the number of black immigrants in the U.S. has more than doubled since 1980, to a record 3.8 million, accounting for 1 in every 11 blacks. By 2060, 1 out of every 6 U.S. blacks will be immigrants.

Black immigrants from Africa are driving the recent growth in immigration, accounting for 36% of the total foreign-born black population. Blacks from Nigeria and Ethiopia account for much of that growth. Still, the Caribbean population accounts for nearly 50% of all blacks, with most coming from Jamaica.

As the ‘different flavors of black’ emerge, different economies are also emerging. The Nielsen research finds that the median household income for foreign-born blacks is 30% higher than U.S.-born blacks.

“A lot of the African . . . immigrants are coming specifically to get an education in the States,” says Andrew McCaskill, senior vice president of global communications at Nielsen.

“High numbers are college-educated, and not only have college degrees, but also masters,” he adds.

McCaskill also says that the black immigrant population in the U.S. has a higher percentage of entrepreneurs, and an increased ability to keep dollars in their own communities.

They’re creating jobs in their communities, they’re buying products from their entrepreneurs. There typically is a culture of recycling dollars, which contributes greatly to the rising fortunes,” says McCaskill.

While U.S. born blacks have had to battle generations of institutional racism, such as predatory lending, that has put them at a socioeconomic and psychological disadvantage that some immigrants have not experienced in this country. McCaskill hopes the changing economic landscape for blacks, citing the Nielsen finding that income growth rates in black households are surpassing almost all others, will help U.S. born blacks and immigrants realize the economic power they collectively have.

“When black consumers see how much power they have, it will change the way African Americans look at themselves, and see how much [of a] power they have become economically. They have the power to drive the products and services that come into their lives and come into their communities,” says McCaskill.