Filipino migrants doing well in US

Published March 26, 2018, 12:05 AM

by Mario Casayuran and Vanne Elaine Terrazola


Filipinos are all over the world today – as doctors and nurses, as engineers and architects, as teachers and computer experts, as seamen and construction workers, as house helpers. Many of them are in the Middle East, notably Saudi Arabia, whose oil riches have enabled them to push forward in their economic development.

But it is the United States which has long been drawing Filipinos in search of new opportunities and a new life. Among the earliest immigrants were Filipino laborers drawn to the cane fields of Hawaii and the fruit farms of California. They were followed decades later by young professionals, seamen, and young people working in the US bases. Then came the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who have found their way to every corner of the world.

Of the 10 million overseas Filipinos today, about 3 million are in the US, with about a million in Saudi Arabia, 670,000 in the United Arab Emirates, and 660,000 in Canada. Many are in the countries around us – Malaysia, Australia, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong and the rest of China. They are in Qatar, Kuwait, and Israel in the Mideast; in Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, in Europe; in Kazakhstan in far-off Central Asia; in New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Palau in the South Pacific; in Brazil and other nations in South America.

The US remains the country of choice for Filipino migrants and, according to a recent report, Filipino immigrants in that country have been found to score highest in many areas among all immigrants, indicating how well they have fit in their new environment and their new life.

The 2016 American Community Survey said Filipinos aged 25 and under had much higher education than other foreign-born and even the native population. Some 50 percent of the Filipinos had college degrees, compared to 32 percent of US-born and 30 percent of all immigrants.

The US Census Bureau reported that in 2016, 67 percent of Filipinos aged 16 and above were in the civilian labor force, compared to 66 percent for all immigrants, and 62 percent of the native-born. They had median income of $87,000 a year (about P4.5 million) a year, compared to $54,000 for all immigrants, and $58,000 for the native-born. Only 5 percent of Filipino families in the US were living in poverty, compared to 15 percent of immigrants overall and 9 percent of the US-born.

The US Department of Homeland Security, in its 2016 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics, said 70 percent of Filipinos in the US were naturalized citizens, compared to 49 percent of the total foreign-born population.

These statistics seem to indicate that Filipinos, among all immigrants in the US, are doing well in that country. This, in turn, may explain why Filipinos back home hold the US in highest regard among other countries, followed by Canada and Japan, as shown in an SWS survey released last month. And all this should be considered by our officials as they lead the country in its relations with other states, including some which are moving towards strong-man rule.