USC Price School of Public Policy

New Immigrant Numbers Fall

Turning Point in LA: New Immigrant Numbers Fall

Long-settled resident numbers rise

Dowell Myers SPPD professor and demographic expert Dowell Myers

For most of the last half century, Los Angeles was the nation’s major immigrant-receiving city, and some observers feared the City and the State of California would be swamped by immigrants.

However, fewer new immigrants are now entering the city than at any time since 1970, according to Dowell Myers, USC School of Policy, Planning, and Development professor and demographic expert. “In the new century, the rapid growth of immigration has ended and past waves of immigrants have successfully settled in,” said Myers. “Los Angeles is advancing to a more stable future, one that reflects its new maturity.”

The new maturity is a culmination of several changes, including a rapid increase in older Angelenos due to aging baby boomers, said Myers. In this major turning point for the region’s residents, many more immigrants are long settled and their children form a new California born generation that will be the future workers, tax payers and home buyers.

The latest demographic data indicate that the foreign-born population in the City of Los Angeles has leveled off – or even slightly declined – to 1.5 million, or 39.7 percent of the total. “This marks the end of four decades of rapid growth in the immigrant population,” said Myers.

However, Myers said those immigrants have in recent decades become more important to the financial stability of the City and the region. “Foreign-born homebuyers are a mainstay of the Los Angeles housing market, accounting for 45.7% of all the homebuyers in the last five years,” he said.

Deeply settled immigrants (resident more than 20 years) are now a major resource for the city and for new immigrants, said Myers. By 2008 there were three long-settled immigrants available for assisting each newcomer, a six-fold growth in the ratio of helping hands that existed in 1990. A similar increase was found among each major ethnic group in the city, including Mexican, Guatemalan, and Korean.

Myers join colleagues from around the region in October for the “2010 Los Angeles: State of the City Report” press conference at California State University, Los Angeles.