Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping Your World

One-in-Ten Black People Living in the U.S. Are Immigrants

5. Household income, poverty status and home ownership among Black immigrants

Household income varies among Black immigrant origin groups

In 2019, Black immigrant-headed households had a lower median income than U.S. immigrant-headed households overall, but a higher median income than households headed by members of the U.S.-born Black population. This pattern has persisted since 2000. That year, the overall immigrant household population’s median income was $58,600, while the Black immigrant household population’s median was $54,700 and the U.S.-born Black household population’s median was $42,500.

The median household income for Black immigrants has slightly increased since 2000 but at a slower pace than that of the overall immigrant population. In 2019, the median household income for the Black immigrant population was $57,200 – lower than the $63,000 U.S. immigrant population household income in 2019 but still higher than the median income in 2000 ($54,700).4 The median income for the entire U.S. immigrant household population increased from 2000 to 2019 ($58,600 to $63,000). When it comes to distribution of income, the overall immigrant population also had a slightly higher share of households earning $50,000 and higher than the Black immigrant population in 2019 (60% vs. 56%).

Table showing Black immigrant household incomes lower than that of the overall U.S. immigrant population but vary among different origin groups, 2019

The household income distribution, however, has changed little since 2000 for the overall Black immigrant population. In 2000 and 2019, similar shares of Black immigrant-headed households (46% and 44%, respectively) made less than $50,000 in 2019 dollars. Roughly three-in-ten in both 2000 and 2019 made $50,000 or more but less than $100,000. The share of Black immigrant households making $100,000 or more was also similar in both 2000 and 2019 (22% and 25%, respectively).

In 2019, household incomes of Black immigrants also differed by region of origin. Households where the household head was born in South America had the highest median income of this population, at $62,000 – the highest among the Black immigrant household population. The median income was next highest among Caribbean-born households ($58,200), followed by those born in Africa ($54,000) and Central America or Mexico ($50,000). Roughly half or more of households headed by someone born in the Caribbean (57%), Africa (55%), South America (59%) and Central America or Mexico (51%) earned at least $50,000 in 2019.

Similar shares of Black immigrants and U.S. immigrants lived below poverty line

Bar chart showing fewer than one-in-five Black immigrants lived below the poverty line in 2019

Some 14% of Black immigrants lived below the poverty line in 2019 (before the COVID-19 pandemic), a rate below that of U.S.-born Black Americans (19%) but higher than the poverty rate among the entire U.S. population (11%).

Roughly similar shares of Black immigrants and all U.S. immigrants lived below the poverty line (14% and 13%, respectively).

Poverty rates within the Black immigrant population vary slightly by region. Fewer than one-in-five African-born (16%) and Central American- or Mexican-born Black immigrants (16%) live below the poverty line, as do 11% and 12% of Caribbean- and South American-born Black immigrants, respectively.

Black immigrant households less likely than overall U.S. immigrant household population to own their homes

Bar chart showing Black immigrants are less likely than  U.S. population or overall immigrant population to be homeowners

Roughly four-in-ten Black immigrant-headed households (42%) owned their homes in 2019, which matches the rate of home ownership among U.S.-born Black Americans (based on heads of households). However, this share is slightly lower than rate of homeownership among all immigrants (53%) and among the entire U.S. population (64%).

The rate of home ownership varies among Black immigrants from different parts of the world. In 2019, a third of African-born immigrant households owned their homes, while around half of Caribbean immigrant households (49%) owned their homes.

  1. All dollar amounts are displayed in 2019 dollars.
Icon for promotion number 1

Sign up for our weekly newsletter

Fresh data delivery Saturday mornings

Icon for promotion number 1

Sign up for The Briefing

Weekly updates on the world of news & information