Population of NYC: 8,244,910 (as of 2011)

Foreign born population:

NYC    3,042,315
  Bronx       475,734
  Brooklyn       948,052
  Manhattan       451,770
  Queens    1,066,262
  Staten Island       100,497

It is estimated that there are about 500,000, maybe a little more, illegal immigrants in New York City. It is up for debate what the economic impact would be of the Dream Act, providing a path to citizenship, legal employment, and access to social services. Let’s take a look at the population of foreign-born New Yorkers and you can draw your own conclusions:

Population Growth

  • New York City has grown by over 1 million people since 1990
  • Over 3 million of New York City’s residents are foreign-born; over one-quarter arrived in 2000 or later
  • The percentage of foreign-born residents in NYC actually peaked in 1910 at 41%. The percentage reached a bottom in 1970 as the population in general declined. Currently an estimated 37% of New York residents are foreign-born
  • New York City has the largest Chinese population of any city outside of Asia
  • More persons of West Indian ancestry live in New York City than any city outside of the West Indies
  • New York has the largest Puerto Rican population of any city in the world
  • More Dominicans live in New York than any other city in the world barring Santo Domingo
  • Over 2.37 million Hispanics reside in New York City, more than any other city in the United States. Were New York Hispanics a city unto themselves, they would rank 4th nationwide.
  • Almost half of all New Yorkers speak a language other than English at home
  • An estimated 200 languages are spoken in New York City

Foreign-born Residents: Highest Neighborhood Concentrations

Neighborhood Share Top 3 Countries of Origin
Elmhurst / Corona 68% Ecuador, China, Mexico
Jackson Heights 64% Ecuador, Mexico, Dominican Rep
Sunnyside / Woodside 59% Ecuador, China, Bangladesh
East Flatbush 57% Jamaica, Haiti, Trinidad & Tobago
Flushing / Whitestone 52% China, Korea, Colombia
Forest Hills / Rego Park 51% Russia, China, India
Bensonhurst 51% China, Russia, Italy
Washington Hts/ Inwood 51% Dominican Rep, Mexico, Ecuador
Kew Garden/ Woodhaven 50% Guyana, India, Dominican Republic
Coney Island 47% Ukraine, Russia, China

“From 2000 to 2007, these ten neighborhoods had stronger economic growth than the rest of the City. In these neighborhoods, the number of businesses grew by 14.8 percent, far faster than in the rest of the City (3.3 percent).”


  • More than 1.9 million foreign-born workers are employed in New York City, including 285,000 commuters
  • Foreign-born individuals accounts for 30 percent of workers who commute to the City.

“While many immigrants are employed in lower paying occupations, they are also well represented in higher-paying and more highly skilled occupations. Among those who responded to the Census survey in 2008, for example, foreign-born workers in the City made up 100 percent of chemical engineers, 71 percent of biomedical and agricultural engineers, 40 percent of accountants and auditors, 27 percent of chief executives and legislators, and 21 percent of elementary and middle school teachers.

Many foreign-born workers are employed in medical occupations. For example, immigrants made up 72 percent of nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides, 56 percent of licensed practical and vocational nurses, 55 percent of registered nurses, and 46 percent of physicians and surgeons.”

Home Ownership

  • Approximately two-thirds of dwellings in New York are renter-occupied, over twice the national average
  • The number of immigrants owning homes in NYC doubled between 1991 and 2008.
  • Foreign-born residents accounted for 60 percent of all home owners in 2008.