Survey finds Caribbean black immigrants better off

A recent Nielsen survey shows the Black population in the U.S. have grown diverse thanks to immigration, with the Black migrant population doubling since 1980 to a record 3.8 million, or 1 out of every 11 blacks.

Topping the list of some 23 origin nations for Black immigrants, Jamaicans represent 18 percent, followed by Haitians at 15 percent, Trinidad and Tobago at 6 percent and Nigerians with 6 percent. In all, 53 percent is from the Caribbean, including 30 percent from the English-speaking Caribbean.

But the survey also shows black migrants growing stronger economically than U.S. born blacks, with the median-household income of the migrant black being 30 percent higher than his US counterpart.

“Caribbean and other researchers have found over the past five or so years that the Caribbean-American migrant population, have gained significantly higher earning power than the rest of the very diverse black population,” says Caribbean-American demographer Winston Wellesley of Port-St. Lucie, attributing the hire earnings to higher likelihood of access to college education.

Wellesley’s observation mirrors that of Nielsen’s senior Vice-President of global communications Andrew McCaskill, who said the majority of black immigrants “are coming specifically to get an education in the States,” for both undergraduate and graduate degrees.

McCaskill also noted higher entrepreneurship rates, where immigrants are “creating jobs in their communities, and are buying products from their entrepreneurs. There typically is a culture of recycling dollars, which contributes greatly to the rising fortunes.”

McCaskill however noted that U.S. born blacks have had to battle generations of institutional racism, such as predatory lending, which create socioeconomic disadvantages immigrants do not experience.

But the Nielsen survey also shows growth rates in black households overall, which, McCaskill says, shows the economic power both U.S. born blacks and immigrants collectively have.

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


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