(CN) — African immigrants have become one of the fastest-growing immigration segments in America, and female African immigrants’ income growth rate has outpaced that of U.S.-born men and women, Michigan State University reported this week.
Stephanie Nawyn led the study, which showed that female black immigrants from Africa saw a 130 percent increase in earnings between 1990 and 2010, outpacing the income-growth rate of black and white women born in the United States.
“The earnings trajectory of black African immigrant women was surprising,” Nawyn said. She thinks the earnings growth may have something to do with African women’s occupational mobility.
Black African women who have been in the workforce for 20 years or more have greater representation in the healthcare industry, while black African males predominantly have “driver” as their top occupational status, “even though they have pretty high levels of education,” Nawyn said.
Despite having more college education, black African immigrant men earn less than white men born in the United States.
“Race plays a part in determining immigrant men’s earnings, but it doesn’t have the same role in immigrant women’s earnings,” said Nawyn, Michigan State University associate professor of sociology.
Racial stereotyping of black men born in Africa or the United States may have something to do with the pay disparities, Nawyn said.
Africans had the highest growth rate of immigration among all major immigrant groups, with their immigration rate increasing by 41 percent from 2000 to 2013, according to a Pew Research Center report.
There were 2.1 million African immigrants in the United States in 2015, up from 881,000 in 2000, Pew reported. Using census information, the Pew report said African immigrants compose a relatively small portion of America’s immigrant population, but their population numbers have doubled nearly every decade since 1970. African immigrants represented 4.8 percent of the U.S. immigrant population in 2015, up from 0.8 percent in 1970, according to Pew.
The Michigan State University study showed that black African immigrant men had earnings increases of 79 percent from 1990 to 2010, making an average of $45,343 in 2010.
White men born in the United States earned an average of $49,478. Black men born in the United States earned just $24,000 in 2010, according to the study.
Black African male immigrants are highly educated, according to Nawyn. They have a far higher percentage of college education — 52 percent — compared to 30 percent of white men born in the United States, and 13 percent of black men born in the United States, according to the study. Thirty-seven percent of black African female immigrants have a college education, the study said, compared to 27 percent of white women born in the United States and 17 percent of black, U.S.-born women.
According to Nawyn, female African immigrants are well represented in health care, social work and accounting. Between 1990 and 2010, black African immigrant women saw their earnings increase from $17,727 to $40,699, Nawyn said. That income figure eclipsed the $27,114 earned by white U.S.-born women and the $21,696 earned by black U.S.-born women, according to Nawyn.
But while female African immigrants are the highest-paid group of immigrants, they still earn less than all groups of men in the United States – except for black, U.S.-born men, the study showed.
The Michigan State University study was co-authored by Julie Park from the University of Maryland and was published in the journal Ethnic and Racial Studies.