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July 2, 2015

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Las Vegas identified as emerging gateway for immigrants

A Washington think tank says Las Vegas is a major U.S. metropolitan area with an emerging immigrant population but one whose adults are mostly low skilled because they lack high school degrees.

The Brookings Institution, in a report released today, says that is similar to its findings in Phoenix, but in sharp contrast to Atlanta and Orlando, Fla., whose immigrants on average are much better educated.

Basing its data on 2009 Census Bureau numbers, Brookings calculated that for every 100 adult immigrants in Las Vegas age 25 and older who don’t have a high school degree, there are only 49 high-skilled immigrants who have at least a bachelor’s degree.

That was based on 130,096 people who lacked high school degrees versus 63,367 who earned at least a four-year college degree. Also, 157,276 immigrants were considered midskilled because they had at least a high school diploma but didn’t have a bachelor’s degree.

Brookings identified Las Vegas as one of five major metropolitan areas in the country considered emerging gateways for immigrants because their foreign-born populations exceeded the national average since 1990 after being relatively small for most of the 20th century. The other cities are Atlanta; Orlando; Austin, Texas; and Phoenix. Phoenix has only 47 high-skilled immigrants for every 100 low-skilled ones. Austin is better at 73 to 100. But the ratio is 119 to 100 in Atlanta and 116 to 100 in Orlando.

A major reason Las Vegas has such a low ratio of high-skilled to low-skilled immigrants was the kind of work available in Southern Nevada before the Great Recession, said Brookings senior fellow Audrey Singer, co-author of the report.

“One of the things that attracted immigrants to Las Vegas was the relatively low cost of living, the quality of life and the housing boom,” Singer said. “A lot of people came to work in the construction industry and the hospitality industry, and that’s why the skill level tilts heavily to the low-skilled side.”

As of 2009, 22 percent of the Las Vegas area included foreign-born residents. Of those, 44 percent came from Mexico, which Singer said is known for having relatively low educational achievement. Atlanta and Orlando have a more diverse mix of immigrants, including those who may have attained higher education in the Caribbean.

Another advantage Atlanta has over Las Vegas is that Georgia’s largest city is home to a mixture of Fortune 500 companies, including Coca-Cola, Home Depot and Delta Air Lines, with no single dominant industry but rather a healthy variety of businesses. It is also the headquarters of CNN and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and has the world’s busiest airport.

“Low-skilled immigrants don’t have the language skills others have and that can put their children at a disadvantage,” Singer said. “We definitely need to care more about these families.”

She won’t get an argument from Otto Merida, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Latin Chamber of Commerce. His organization this year awarded college scholarships to 105 Hispanic high school graduates, but said far more needs to be done to help immigrants achieve higher skill levels that can benefit employers.

With state and federal agencies tightening their budgets, Merida said the gaming industry and other businesses should contribute more financially to work-training programs.

“Putting more resources into workforce programs would benefit the community,” Merida said. “We need the resources to send more people to the community college and vocational schools.”

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  1. Immigrants? Guess today, people are afraid to use the words "Illegal Aliens" or "Illegal Immigrants" in a news story. If they're here legally, they should be learning the English language on their own... after all, isn't that the one of requirement to become a citizen in the United States?

  2. Over half the population of central North Las Vegas are hispanic or speak spanish. You could easily say the majority are in the country illegally. You could easily say, out of the majority, 4 out of 10 are employed. In certain pockets of North Las Vegas business are concentrated up and down the main streets with advertisments written in spanish. Impressive transformation the last 5 years.

    The strength of any immigrant population is their language!

  3. It is really nice to have a study to back what many of us have been saying for a while here. Thanks.

    What is extremely troubling with this particular population of immigrants, is their blatant refusal to assimilate into the American culture and become USA citizens. In a recent study on DROP-OUTS, found on CCSD Interact, Turnaround School, listed this population as being problematic due to family lack of cooperation in SPEAKING THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE. Imagine, the one thing, key to being successful towards graduation, and being functional in the USA, and these folks believe themselves are the exemption to the rule: they don't need to follow the rules in an English reading, speaking, writing, and counting educational institution. No, we have to throw money at them, hire special teachers and special programs, and buy millions of dollars of support materials to accommodate THEM.

    That is what has been going on for at least the past 15 years, and why NEVADA struggles in not only education ranking, but economically.

    Now, these children are protected by law to be educated by any USA public school. But the time has come to address the on-going failure of positive parental supports and modeling. We cannot continue the path we have been on with low test scores, poor graduation rates, high unemployment. We need to change course, call upon these children's adults to start doing the right thing: for their own children and for the USA!

  4. We should not be spending a DIME on illegal aliens to be educated, fed, housed, clothed or for their health you think if I decided to cross into Mexico (or any other country for that matter), they would say, WELCOME, please, enroll your children in school (we will provide english text books for them), here is your monthly food stamp benefits, oh and by the way, if you are sick, the local hospital emergency room will take care of your need for money, our government will pick up the tab....yeah RIGHT...but WE do it every single day...and if we keep on doing it, they will keep on expecting it.

  5. @777irish, I too am looking to buy a condo or townhouse in Vegas...prices are good. And I do believe that there are plenty of great neighborhoods to relocate to. Do your homework. Don't be afraid to talk to neighbors around a piece of property you want to buy. Las Vegas is a great city. Small enough to get around in yet big enough to have a nice diversified lifestyle. However, it will always be a tourist town, and you have to take the negatives with the positives. If our government ever gets off its @$#% and addresses the border problem and illegal (I call it what it really is) alien problem...then Las Vegas may NOT become little Mexico as I hear others claim it will be one day.

  6. Don't all of U guys understand? These are all potential democratic voters. If we make them all legal and give them a bus ride to the polls on election day all we have to do is teach them how to read democrat and boom...they get free heath food...welfare insurance...

    All free for them and paid for by U and me. Its the new american dream.

  7. To get_involved...thank you for the link, I didn't know about it until you posted it. I will be passing that on to all my friends.

  8. Las Vegas identified as an 'emerging gateway' for 'immigrants'

    You simply can't make this crap up.

    Rarely have I seen such dishonestly moronic euphemisms pulled out of some journalist's rear end for political correctness' sake.

    Steve Kanigher, whoever you are, realize that many of us have lived in Las Vegas a long time, and have watched the tragic destruction of our city by illegal immigrants, the politicians who pander to them, and the businesses who hire them.

    If by 'Emerging Gateway' you mean garbage dump, refugee camp, breeding hive and criminal playground-

    If by 'Immigrant' you mean uneducated, illiterate, classless illegal alien trash-

    -then you are absolutely right, Las Vegas has become exactly that.