November 2, 2021

Integrating Immigrant Talent: A Look at Philadelphia’s Foreign-Born Population

Integrating Immigrant Talent: A Look at Philadelphia’s Foreign-Born Population

As the Workforce Development Board for Philadelphia, Philadelphia Works and the PA CareerLink® Philadelphia system administer and support programming that educates and trains our city’s residents. Individuals from all backgrounds are entitled to access these services, and we work with partners and stakeholders from various organizations to help reach diverse populations.

This research brief provides an overview of the foreign-born population living in Philadelphia. After discussing basic demographic and economic characteristics, a more nuanced analysis shines light on the relationship between income and English language proficiency and underscores the important role of English language education in workforce development.

Key Findings

Though this work has produced several specific insights, three broad findings have emerged:

• While many foreign-born residents live in South and Northeast Philadelphia, immigrant populations live in concentrated areas throughout the city based on their place of birth.

• An estimated 26% of Philadelphia’s foreign-born population lacks a high school diploma or GED. Approximately 70% of these individuals report to speak English “less than well.”

• Improving English proficiency has the potential to boost annual wages by nearly $9,000, independent of an individual’s education or occupational skill level.