Income Drops for Recent Refugee Arrivals

Despite relatively high educational attainment and employment rates, refugees have lower incomes than other immigrants. Refugees’ median household income in 2009-11 was $42,000, about $3,000 below other immigrants’ and $8,000 less than the median for the U.S. born. Nevertheless, refugees’ incomes notably rise with length of U.S. residence. The median income of refugees who arrive in 1980-90 was $31,000 higher than the median income of those who arrived in 2006-11. (…) concerning is that recent refugees’ incomes have dropped relative to those of the U.S. born. This gap suggests that the income gains observed among earlier arrivals may not be replicated for those who arrived more recently. Refugee who arrived in the United States between 1995 and 2000 had median household incomes equivalent to 62 percent of U.S.-born household incomes, as measured in the 2000 Census; but refugees who had been in the United States for five years or less in 2009-11 had median incomes equal to 452 percent of the U.S. born.
Migration Policy Institute: The Integration Outcomes of U.S. Refugees, 2015



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