Feb 7, 2022 - News

Colorado sees surge in Black immigrant population

Percentage growth of Black immigrant population, by state
Reproduced from Pew Research

Colorado has become the country's fastest-growing state for Black immigrants, a new Pew Research Center report shows.

State of play: The number of Black immigrants in the U.S. has catapulted over the last four decades, and new census data reveals much of Colorado's diversification has stemmed from influxes of people originally from Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America.

  • The biggest numbers are coming from Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia and from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Atim Otii, director of Denver's Office of Immigrant & Refugee Affairs, tells Axios.

By the numbers: The Centennial State saw a 433% spike in its Black immigrant population between 2000 and 2019, significantly outpacing every other state, per Pew's analysis.

  • By comparison, Colorado's total population only increased 34% during the same period.

What they're saying: "When we get a large increase in foreign-born residents and refugees, it is typically due to bad things happening in the world," state demographer Elizabeth Garner tells Axios.

  • "Families attract families," she notes, which also has contributed to the rapid increase in Black immigrants as foreign-born people join their families in the U.S.

Reality check: The number of Black immigrants in Colorado doubled to about 20,000 in 2019, but it's still nowhere near the nation's top 10 when it comes to highest population shares.

  • New York City, for example, had 1.1 million Black immigrants in 2019, while Miami recorded roughly 490,000.
  • Nearly 80% of Black immigrants in 2019 lived either in the Northeast or the South. The West, including Colorado, only has 10 percent of the total.

The big picture: The number of Black immigrants living in the U.S. reached 4.6 million in 2019 — a 475% increase since 1980, Axios' Russell Contreras reports.

  • With jumps in violence, natural disasters and drought around the globe, Garner tells Axios those numbers are expected to rise in Colorado and nationwide in the coming decades.

This story first appeared in the Axios Denver newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard. Subscribe here.


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